Practical Strategies to Ensure Access for Disabled Patients
May 16, 2014 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care
Medical offices can increase access for people with disabilities by implementing practical recommendations described in a May 8, 2014, New England Journal of Medicine article, such as updating intake forms to identify accessibility needs and implementing policies to promote care accessibility for disabled patients. Although healthcare facilities are lawfully required to provide "full and equal access to care for persons with disabilities" under the Americans with Disabilities Act, research shows that patients with disabilities are sometimes "transferred in an unsafe manner onto examination tables and other equipment, receive less preventive care and fewer examinations, and report longer waits to see subspecialists," according to the article. Other strategies to increase access include training staff on how to properly transfer patients and use accessible equipment, making height-adjustable examination tables available, and flagging special needs in the scheduling system and electronic record to ensure that patients with disabilities can have needed items reserved for them when they make an appointment.