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Fam Med. 2004 May;36(5):341-5.

A controlled trial of an advanced access appointment system in a residency family medicine center.

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  • 1University of North Carolina, Department of Family Medicine, USA.



The implementation of advanced access appointment systems has improved continuity of care, patient and physician satisfaction, physician productivity, and average physician panel size in private practice and group-model HMO settings. This study's purpose was to document the patient care benefits, practice management benefits, and educational outcomes from the controlled implementation of an advanced access appointment system in a residency family medicine center.


Two faculty-resident teams were created. One team adopted the advanced access system while the other team continued using a traditional access system. Outcome measures included length of time needed to obtain an appointment (days to third available appointment), continuity (percentage of visits with the patient's designated provider), no-show rates, productivity, visits lost to outside providers, panel sizes, and patient satisfaction. Outcomes were measured at baseline and quarterly for 1 year after initial implementation.


After implementation, the "days to third available appointment" for the advanced access group was 5 days, compared to 21 days for the traditional access group. A significant improvement in continuity (ie, a match between the primary care physician and patient) for the advanced access team was found. Comparison of no-show rates between the advanced access and traditional access teams revealed significant between-subjects effect, but controlling for within-subject variation using repeated measures ANOVA eliminated this effect. Advanced access residents increased their continuity above 50% while increasing provider satisfaction with office practice and scope of practice.


Faculty and residents can successfully use advanced access. Advanced access can enhance residency education by reducing appointment delays and significantly increasing the patient-primary care physician match.

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