Healthcare in the United States can be a disparate experience for different groups of patients. Social Determinants Of Health can have significant impacts on patients’ health and they include access to healthcare. Improving patients’ experiences and access to healthcare can make a large difference in healthcare costs and patient outcomes. This leads to the 5 A’s of accessibility:
Affordability: Affordability refers to the ability and willingness to pay fees and charges for medical services rendered by patients. In America, this includes having the ability to afford insurance. This also includes co-pays, medications, and other incidental charges that arise before deductibles are reached.
Availability: Availability in this context is multi-faceted. It refers to the medical provider having enough personnel to see patients and keep appointments. It also refers to doctors and medical staff having enough technology and knowledge at their disposal to do their jobs properly. In essence, it boils down to having enough resources.
Accessibility: Accessibility is how close medical providers are located to their patients and how easy it is to find the location. This is quite a significant factor in access because some patients struggle with transportation, which limits how far they can travel for services.
Accommodation: Accommodation refers to the patient’s ability to be seen and treated as needed. For example, do they have the ability to have a walk-in appointment? Is the provider able to render services at odd hours that are outside normal business hours? This also refers to the patient’s ability to contact the provider for appointments or information, such as by phone or online.
Acceptability: Acceptability has been found to be a crucial aspect of patient care. It refers to feeling accepted by your provider regardless of things you can’t change like age, sex, ethnicity, and social class. It also means accepting your provider for their immutable characteristics and how they diagnose and treat your needs. While this characteristic is often difficult to quantify, it is also critical to the utilization of healthcare.
There are plenty of areas that make an impact on patient ability to access good healthcare. The 5 A’s of healthcare accessibility work toward making healthcare more equitable, efficient, and available to all people. Each health care provider can benefit by self-assessment on these 5 qualities as a way to monitor their strengths and weakness.