Developing a measure of patient access to primary care: the access response index (AROS).
SourceJournal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, 9, 1, (2003), pp. 33-37
Article / Letter to editor
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Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice
SubjectEBP 4: Quality of Care
Access to appointments in primary care is not routinely measured, and there is no one standardized method for doing so. Any measurement tool has to take account of the dynamic status of appointment availability and the definitional problems of appointment types. The aim of this study was to develop and trial a method for measuring access that is valid, reliable, quick and provides a daily longitudinal record of access on an organizational basis (not for individual clinicians). Using the results of a literature review and following discussions with clinicians and managers a tool was designed following agreed specifications. After initial adjustments of the tool a feasibility study tested the acceptability of a data collection exercise on 11 practices of varying types, over a 4- to 8-week period. The development phase led to the design of a tool named the access response index (AROS). The method was well received in the practices, with a low incidence of missed days and only one practice failing to return data. The index measures the number of days' wait to the next available appointment with any general practitioner. The inclusion in the score of urgent appointments was abandoned due to definitional problems. A 5-day moving average was chosen to represent the data in graph form to demonstrate overall trends. AROS is a useful tool usable in any practice, and our feasibility study points to it being widely acceptable in the field. Data are represented in clear graphical daily format, either just for one practice or as an anonymous composite graph with other practices in the locality.
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