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Best Advice Guide: Timely Access

A guide providing practical strategies that support timely access, including same-day access, to appointments in family practice.

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The PMH Best Advice Guide on Timely Access is a tool highlighting the guiding principles for timely access scheduling, and emphasizing that continuity and comprehensiveness of patient care are critical elements of family practice. The guide acknowledges that populations who have better access to continuing care from the same personal physician have fewer hospitalizations and better health outcomes.

Timely access has been rated by patients as one of the most important elements of primary care, and it is an important goal and pillar of the PMH vision. To achieve timely access, family practices use a variety of appointment booking models; however, this guide focuses on more recent same-day/advanced access scheduling. The guide also outlines the benefits and limitations of this scheduling approach, as well as tips on how to implement same-day scheduling in the practices of Canadian family physicians.

This best advice guideline also discusses factors to consider in the decision to move from a traditional appointment booking system to the same-day/advanced access scheduling method. It also discusses possible strategies, such as:

  • Working in teams
  • Extended family practice hours
  • Email, telephone, and other electronic communication
  • Group visits
  • Self-care and patient education
  • Home and community care
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