Ensuring patient access to care

April 1, 2024

Annual access and availability survey  

As your partner in patient care, each year, Cigna Healthcare conducts an annual Access and Availability Standards Survey to assess patient access to needed medical services. The survey takes a snapshot across our network of participating providers to ensure that your patients:

  • Have access to care 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
  • Can receive care for urgent medical events that may occur after normal office hours.
  • Can contact a provider after normal practice hours (Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.).

How the survey works

Cigna Healthcare survey specialists randomly select and call Cigna Healthcare Medicare Advantage network-participating primary care providers, high-volume and high-impact specialists, and behavioral prescribers and nonprescribers.

  • During business hours, your staff will be asked questions relevant to appointment type and provider availability. Compliance is determined based on responses.
  • After business hours, the survey measures and determines compliance based on the messaging features and forwarding options.

Appointment availability standard: Primary care

Primary care appointmentsAccess standard
Nonurgent/nonemergencyWithin one week
Routine and preventiveWithin 30 days
On-call response (after hours)One hour or less in an emergency
Office wait time30 minutes or less

Appointment availability standard: Specialist

Appointment typeAccess standard
Nonurgent/nonemergencyWithin one week
ElectiveWithin 30 days
High index of suspicion malignancyLess than seven days
Waiting time in office30 minutes or less

After-hours access standard: Primary care and specialist

Emergency callsReturn call within 60 minutes of receiving it
Nonemergency callsReturn call within 24 hours
After-hours calls (when office is closed)– Reliable 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week answering service with a beeper or paging system, and on-call coverage arranged with another participating provider (same specialty preferred)
– Provider answering machine directs patients to the nearest emergency room in the case a provider, office staff, or live party is not available

For more information

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