February 16, 2007

elevate: Answering the Tough Questions

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Medical Center leadership answers the tough questions about what the elevate program is and what it means for the people who work at VUMC.

Question: Why can't we see patients more quickly?

Answer: First, we do all we can to triage patients and accommodate the sickest without delay; our providers routinely make scheduling sacrifices to see patients with urgent needs.

More generally, the wait for an appointment with a VMG provider is apt to vary according to the type of patient complaint, and the wait will vary most significantly for patients who want to see a specific provider rather than any provider in the specialty. Where specialty care is concerned, it also usually makes a difference whether the patient is being referred by another doctor.

Our most recent data show that patients referred by their doctor for specialty care get an appointment with VMG within three weeks, 75 percent of the time. Primary care appointments are currently on a next-day basis at VMG Brentwood, and a primary care appointment here on campus can generally be scheduled within three to four weeks.

The wait can be considerably longer for patients who are self-referring for VMG specialty care, as well as for patients who want to see a specific provider, whether for specialty care or primary care. We've determined that capacity in most of our clinics is in line with demand. At the executive level, we continue to monitor outpatient access and to promote the principles and strategies of open access.

— C. Wright Pinson, M.D., M.B.A., associate vice chancellor for Clinical Affairs and chief medical officer


Employees with questions they would like to see answered in this column can send them to the elevate Web site, www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/elevate (click on “Ask a tough question”).