A Look Back at the 2023 PAC Symposium


With more than 200 patient access professionals in attendance, representing 72 academic health systems from across the country, with great networking opportunities and fantastic programming, the 2023 Patient Access Collaborative Symposium in East Lansing, Michigan, was a wild success. The conference provided a relaxed, discussion-based forum, which allowed PAC members to connect, learn, and understand the initiatives of each institution.

Featuring more than 75 speakers, moderators, and discussion leaders, the knowledge gleaned at the 2023 PAC Symposium was vast. Key themes:

  • Data drives behavior, decisions, and innovation; illuminating every aspect of the patient's journey into the health system helps stakeholders recognize opportunities. 
  • The front door to care may not be in our hands as academic health systems and children's hospitals; with patients accessing care via search engines, podcasts, and retailers, the provision of care is more complex than ever as acuity in the health care delivery system rises. 
  • Every transaction - call, appointment slot, message, etc.,  - represents a patient's life; leveraging that fact internally helps garner investment; timely access is crucial for the delivery of safe, quality care. 
  • Templates, referrals, rooms, staffing:  while call handling was originally thought to be the pinnacle of access, access reaches far beyond the call center into the ambulatory enterprise.
  • Executive leadership must prioritize patient access; because there is no quantifiable ROI, an executive leader must be at the helm to rally the troops -- recognizing that the "perfect" outpatient visit is elusive, thereby dismantling the "way we've always done it..." in favor of delivering experience, convenience, and importantly, access.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023 - Pre-Conference Sessions

Access leaders from across the nation gathered to strategize and discuss the latest research and advanced initiatives focused on improving patient access to ambulatory care. With a full lineup in store for the day, Moderator Brent Bizwell kicked off the Access Journey Session by asking the important question, “What Does Access Mean to You?”. Members were presented the opportunity to convey their collective remarks surrounding this idea while creating a colorful, artistic display of the word ACCESS (see word cloud to the right!).

Opening day sessions showcased topics of interest in Access Journey, the Children’s Hospital Access Collaborative, the Digital Front Door, the Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Hospital, and the Executive Roundtable held at MSU’s University Club.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023 - Workshops and Access Showcase

The Symposium continued with a morning full of workshops: Ambulatory Operations, Capacity Management, Call Center Management, and Medical Directors.

Ambulatory Operations workshop leader Michelle Schotzko, RN, BSN, Director of Practices, MSU Health Care, and moderator Yara Davila, MBA, Executive Director, Ambulatory Services, Brigham and Women's Hospital, provided a tour of the facility to PAC attendees and the session continued with a rapid-fire presentation about the role of access managers from Sarah Kier, VP, Patient Access, Emory Healthcare. A dynamic roundtable discussion followed with the topics "The Impact of RVU Measurement on Access" and "Access Standards (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly!).”

The Call Center Management workshop was held at the MSU Union for a lecture series moderated by Gina Minas, Director, Access, Northwestern Medicine, who engaged call center experts from the nation's premier health systems to think about ideas surrounding best practices in access. Other highlights included: PAC/CHAC Benchmarks for Contact Center Management, Post-Call Survey Drives Access Performance Factors, Leveraging the Access Center to Support Care Transitions, Training@IOWA, and Getting Granular with Call Center Data to Improve Performance.

Dan Gregg, VP, USF Tampa General Hospital, kicked off the Capacity Management workshop at the Graduate Hotel. Attendees heard from speakers presenting on topics ranging from Ambulatory Predictive Analytics and Care Call, Room Management and Allocation Strategy, and Telling the Story of Access, to Stress Testing: The Next Frontier of Capacity Management Analytics, and Template Security Survey Findings. Roundtable discussions led by 10 PAC members followed the presentations.

Attendees in our Medical Directors workshop enjoyed the first half of the morning at one of the above sessions, then came together at the Graduate Hotel for the second half. Moderated by Shivani Scharf, DO, Medical Director Access, the University of Kansas Health System, attendees discussed the role of the medical director, including the job description, organizational structure, and dyad/triad structuring. Service level agreements, patient safety, ROI analysis, and benchmarking data were also discussed.

After a break in the day, all PAC Symposium attendees gathered at the MSU Kellogg Center for the long-awaited Access Showcase. Shining a light on our host, MSU Health Care, the showcase was as entertaining as it was informational, with leaders from MSU Health Care discussing how patient access has evolved at their institution, the value of capacity management, fostering relationships to improve access to services, the journey to self-automation, and so much more. 

Thursday, May 11, 2023 - Main Symposium

PAC Founder and Executive Director Elizabeth Woodcock kicked off the main symposium with a welcome, information about the PAC, exclusive benchmarking analytics, and announced our Gable, Karen Layher, and Member Engagement Awards. Attendees then heard from a curated selection of patient access experts.

Jennifer Perkins, MD, MBA, Ambulatory Executive Medical Director, UCSF Health, presented on How to Move an (Access) Mountain, followed by Rick Evans, Senior Vice President and Chief Experience Officer, NewYork Presbyterian Hospitals, discussing Merging Access and Experience. In his presentation, he said, "Access is legacy work. We are saving health care from ourselves."   

Victor Hassid, MD, Executive Medical Director, Access Strategic Operations, MD Anderson Cancer Center, talked to attendees about the "High-Reliability Organization Journey in Healthcare - Is It Just About Patient Safety?" He was followed by Linda Nguyen, MD, Clinic Chief, Digestive Health Center, and Rebecca Carey, Administrative Director, Patient Journey Optimization, Stanford Health Care, sharing their insights on transforming the pre-visit experience by engaging providers, care teams, and patients.

Kelly Turner, VP, Patient Access Services, and Marc Cohen, MD, Medical Director, Memorial Sloan Kettering shared how to leverage access to solve system volume changes. They spoke about new program development they've implemented at MSK for cancer patients who are already treated that hinges on a rapid diagnosis program, reducing the number of patients turned away and successfully seeing patients faster while expediting treatment.   

Wrapping up the main symposium, Elsa Jacobson, Executive Director Access Transformation, and Dawn Colwell, Senior Director, Access, Cleveland Clinic, provided insights on the value of (true) patient-centered access. They discussed a new process recently implemented at Cleveland Clinic called "Connect2Care." C2C transforms the access experience through three phases with the goal of knowing their patients, understanding their patients, and understanding what is important to them.  

Thank you to every one who attended, spoke, and volunteered at the 2023 Patient Access Symposium. And thank you to our host, Michigan State University Health Care!