Background Advanced (“open”) access scheduling, which promotes patient-driven scheduling in lieu of prearranged appointments, has been proposed as a more patient-centered appointment method and has been widely adopted throughout the United Kingdom, within the US Veterans Health Administration, and among US private practices.
Objective To describe patient and physician and/or practice outcomes resulting from implementation of advanced access scheduling in the primary care setting.
Data Sources Comprehensive search of electronic databases (MEDLINE, Scopus, Web of Science) through August, 2010, supplemented by reference lists and gray literature.
Study Selection Studies were assessed in duplicate, and reviewers were blinded to author, journal, and date of publication. Controlled and uncontrolled English-language studies of advanced access implementation in primary care were eligible if they specified methods and reported outcomes data.
Data Extraction Two reviewers collaboratively assessed risk for bias by using the Cochrane Effective Practice and Organisation of Care Group Risk of Bias criteria. Data were independently extracted in duplicate.
Data Synthesis Twenty-eight articles describing 24 studies met eligibility criteria. All studies had at least 1 source of potential bias. All 8 studies evaluating time to third-next-available appointment showed reductions (range of decrease, 1.1-32 days), but only 2 achieved a third-next-available appointment in less than 48 hours (25%). No-show rates improved only in practices with baseline no-show rates higher than 15%. Effects on patient satisfaction were variable. Limited data addressed clinical outcomes and loss to follow-up.
Conclusions Studies of advanced access support benefits to wait time and no-show rate. However, effects on patient satisfaction were mixed, and data about clinical outcomes and loss to follow-up were lacking.