Accessing health services is the first step to being healthcare smart.
Many adults in the United States lack basic awareness of the health services available in their community – where and when these services are available and how to use them. They may not be aware of sliding fee scales, eligibility for medicaid, and a wide variety of support services.
Navigating the system requires unreasonable self-sufficiency.
- Make initial and subsequent appointments
- Locate facilities and arrange transportation
- Follow up with specialists
- Schedule required tests
- Track what is often a complex flow of information – understand and explain their health condition and treatment plan, advocate for themselves, seek second opinions, and organize/synthesize disparate advice and options.
The struggle to access care contributes to health disparities.
When frustrated and confused, patients fail to seek timely and appropriate care.
Healthcare professionals can become disconnected from the reality their patients’ experience.
- Patients are confused by phone answering systems.
- Patients are offered appointments at times they can’t realistically make.
- Patients are given referrals that are refused.
- Staff is too hurried and seems unresponsive.
- No triage or advice line is available to help patients.
- Staff can’t offer language support.
- Patients don’t know how to obtain copies of medical records for personal use or have them sent to provider.
- Patient has no experience with insurance forms, co-pay, patient billing, and reimbursement deductible.