Patient waiting times in a physician's office.
This observational study measured waiting times, appointment durations, and scheduling variables of a single family practice physician. Waiting time and appointment duration in four sequential groups of sessions were compared using analysis of variance; each group used different scheduling templates. Groups 1 and 2 used a 15-minute base interval; group 3 used a 20-minute base interval. Observations for group 4 were collected at a different health center using a 15-minute base interval. Scheduling variables were correlated with waiting time using correlation coefficients, and data were collected on 1783 appointments. The best waiting time (mean +/- SD) was 17.33 +/- 19.19 minutes. The mean appointment duration for this group was 17.99 +/- 7.97 minutes. The F statistic comparing the four groups of sessions for waiting times was 34.14 and for appointment duration was 37.37, both of which are significant (P < 0.001). The Spearman correlation coefficient for waiting time with queue was 0.2474 (P < 0.001). The Spearman correlation coefficients for mean waiting time and lateness of starting a session (0.4530), patients per hour (0.3461), and patients per session (0.3674) were all significant (P < 0.001). Both scheduling and patient flow affect patient waiting times. The best schedule would consist of shorter sessions that started on time and were extended to accommodate extra patients rather than adding in patients and crowding the schedule. In addition to reducing the actual waiting times, the perception of waiting can be managed to minimize patient dissatisfaction. (+info)
Time for a change? The process of lengthening booking intervals in general practice.
Longer booking intervals between appointments in general practice are generally seen as 'a good thing', and have a strong 'evidence base' to support them. Changing to longer booking intervals is regarded as a pipe dream by many general practitioners (GPs). This paper reports the process and outcomes of a change to longer booking intervals in one practice, identifies the key elements of the change, and examines lessons learned for the practice, to help other practices to do similarly. The most important factor in bringing about change was the influence of facilitation by outside parties; first, by management consultants who identified solutions to the practice's problems, and secondly, by recruitment to a research study. Other outside influences were an awareness of the success of other practices in changing to 10-minute booking intervals, and the increasing 'evidence base' to support such change. Internal influences on the process were a desire to change as a result a perception that the practice was under-performing, and the stress associated with this. As a result of the change, the number of doctor consultations fell and the number of nurse consultations rose, fewer patients reconsulted, and marginal improvements were reported on doctor and patient satisfaction. Other practices may benefit from such change; the use of management consultants as facilitators may instigate such change. (+info)
The role of patients and providers in the timing of follow-up visits. Telephone Care Study Group.
OBJECTIVE: Although the decision about how frequently to see outpatients has a direct impact on a provider's workload and may impact health care costs, revisit intervals have rarely been a topic of investigation. To begin to understand what factors are correlated with this decision, we examined baseline data from a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Cooperative Study designed to evaluate telephone care. DESIGN: Observational study based on extensive patient data collected during enrollment into the randomized trial. Providers were required to recommend a revisit interval (e.g., "return visit in 3 months") for each patient before randomization, under the assumption that the patient would be receiving clinic visits as usual. POPULATION/SETTING: Five hundred seventy-one patients over age 55 cared for by one of the 30 providers working in three VA general medical clinics. Patients for whom immediate follow-up (+info)
Setting the revisit interval in primary care.
OBJECTIVE: Although longitudinal care constitutes the bulk of primary care, physicians receive little guidance on the fundamental question of how to time follow-up visits. We sought to identify important predictors of the revisit interval and to describe the variability in how physicians set these intervals when caring for patients with common medical conditions. DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey of physicians performed at the end of office visits for consecutive patients with hypertension, angina, diabetes, or musculoskeletal pain. PARTICIPANTS/SETTING: One hundred sixty-four patients under the care of 11 primary care physicians in the Dartmouth Primary Care Cooperative Research Network. MEASUREMENTS: The main outcome measures were the variability in mean revisit intervals across physicians and the proportion of explained variance by potential determinants of revisit intervals. We assessed the relation between the revisit interval (dependent variable) and three groups of independent variables, patient characteristics (e.g., age, physician perception of patient health), identification of individual physician, and physician characterization of the visit (e. g., routine visit, visit requiring a change in management, or visit occurring on a "hectic" day), using multiple regression that accounted for the natural grouping of patients within physician. MAIN RESULTS: Revisit intervals ranged from 1 week to over 1 year. The most common intervals were 12 and 16 weeks. Physicians' perception of fair-poor health status and visits involving a change in management were most strongly related to shorter revisit intervals. In multivariate analyses, patient characteristics explained about 18% of the variance in revisit intervals, and adding identification of the individual provider doubled the explained variance to about 40%. Physician characterization of the visit increased explained variance to 57%. The average revisit interval adjusted for patient characteristics for each of the 11 physicians varied from 4 to 20 weeks. Although all physicians lengthened revisit intervals for routine visits and shortened them when changing management, the relative ranking of mean revisit intervals for each physician changed little for different visit characterizations-some physicians were consistently long and others were consistently short. CONCLUSION: Physicians vary widely in their recommendations for office revisits. Patient factors accounted for only a small part of this variation. Although physicians responded to visits in predictable ways, each physician appeared to have a unique set point for the length of the revisits interval. (+info)
A controlled trial of parent initiated and conventional preschool health surveillance using personal child health records.
OBJECTIVES: A comparison of parent initiated preschool surveillance, using personal child health records, with the then current system of child health surveillance using child health records. DESIGN: Prospective, controlled trial with randomisation of five general practices into two groups. SETTING: Five general practices, a well baby clinic, and an orthoptic clinic at Yeovil District Hospital. SUBJECTS: 538 babies born between 1 April 1992 and 1 November 1994, from within the five general practices. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The number of screenable abnormalities in the two groups that were missed in the first 3 years of a baby's life. RESULTS: 163 babies from the parent initiated preschool surveillance group and 107 from the conventional group completed the study. Although all the mothers from the parent initiated preschool surveillance group understood the concept of parent initiated surveillance, 117 stated their health visitor had made their appointments. Only 45 mothers made their own appointments. The abnormality rates were: 12 of 163 and eight of 107 at 1 year and nine of 163 and six of 107 at 3 years. No medically important conditions were missed. Most mothers did not want to make their own appointments because it was inconvenient. The system was unpopular with health visitors. CONCLUSION: Parent initiated preschool surveillance is as safe as the current system. Implementing the idea involved a small change in work practice and a large change conceptually for some of the primary health care team. It was not adopted in east Somerset. (+info)
Electronic imaging impact on image and report turnaround times.
We prospectively compared image and report delivery times in our Urgent Care Center (UCC) during a film-based practice (1995) and after complete implementation of an electronic imaging practice in 1997. Before switching to a totally electronic and filmless practice, multiple time periods were consistently measured during a 1-week period in May 1995 and then again in a similar week in May 1997 after implementation of electronic imaging. All practice patterns were the same except for a film-based practice in 1995 versus a filmless practice in 1997. The following times were measured: (1) waiting room time, (2) technologist's time of examination, (3) time to quality control, (4) radiology interpretation times, (5) radiology image and report delivery time, (6) total radiology turn-around time, (7) time to room the patient back in the UCC, and (8) time until the ordering physician views the film. Waiting room time was longer in 1997 (average time, 26:47) versus 1995 (average time, 15:54). The technologist's examination completion time was approximately the same (1995 average time, 06:12; 1997 average time, 05:41). There was also a slight increase in the time of the technologist's electronic verification or quality control in 1997 (average time, 7:17) versus the film-based practice in 1995 (average time, 2:35). However, radiology interpretation times dramatically improved (average time, 49:38 in 1995 versus average time 13:50 in 1997). There was also a decrease in image delivery times to the clinicians in 1997 (median, 53 minutes) versus the film based practice of 1995 (1 hour and 40 minutes). Reports were available with the images immediately upon completion by the radiologist in 1997, compared with a median time of 27 minutes in 1995. Importantly, patients were roomed back into the UCC examination rooms faster after the radiologic procedure in 1997 (average time, 13:36) than they were in 1995 (29:38). Finally, the ordering physicians viewed the diagnostic images and reports in dramatically less time in 1997 (median, 26 minutes) versus 1995 (median, 1 hour and 5 minutes). In conclusion, a filmless electronic imaging practice within our UCC greatly improved radiology image and report delivery times, as well as improved clinical efficiency. (+info)
Linking community-based blood pressure measurement to clinical care: a randomized controlled trial of outreach and tracking by community health workers.
OBJECTIVES: This study assessed the effectiveness of enhanced tracking and follow-up services provided by community health workers in promoting medical follow-up of persons whose elevated blood pressures were detected during blood pressure measurement at urban community sites. METHODS: In a randomized controlled trial, 421 participants received either enhanced or usual referrals to care. Participants were 18 years or older, were either Black or White, and had blood pressure greater than or equal to 140/90 mm Hg and income equal to or less than 200% of poverty. The primary outcome measure was completion of a medical follow-up visit within 90 days of referral. RESULTS: The enhanced intervention increased follow-up by 39.4% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 14%, 71%; P = .001) relative to usual care. Follow-up visits were completed by 65.1% of participants in the intervention group, compared with 46.7% of those in the usual-care group. The number needed to treat was 5 clients (95% CI = 3, 13) per additional follow-up visit realized. CONCLUSIONS: Enhanced tracking and outreach increased the proportion of persons with elevated blood pressure detected during community measurement who followed up with medical care. (+info)
Reducing non-attendance at outpatient clinics.
Outpatient non-attendance is a common source of inefficiency in a health service, wasting time and resources and potentially lengthening waiting lists. A prospective audit of plastic surgery outpatient clinics was conducted during the six months from January to June 1997, to determine the clinical and demographic profile of non-attenders. Of 6095 appointments 16% were not kept. Using the demographic information, we changed our follow-up guidelines to reflect risk factors for multiple non-attendances, and a self-referral clinic was introduced to replace routine follow-up for high risk non-attenders. After these changes, a second audit in the same six months of 1998 revealed a non-attendance rate of 11%--i.e. 30% lower than before. Many follow-up appointments are sent inappropriately to patients who do not want further attention. This study, indicating how risk factor analysis can identify a group of patients who are unlikely to attend again after one missed appointment, may be a useful model for the reduction of outpatient non-attendance in other specialties. (+info)