Improving Care by Decreasing Wait Times: A Military Health System Quality Improvement Project

Mil Med. 2022 Aug 20:usac254. doi: 10.1093/milmed/usac254. Online ahead of print.


INTRODUCTION: Maximizing patient satisfaction is now a significant focus in many outpatient orthopedic clinics as it has been shown to affect many facets of healthcare. With this quality improvement study, we sought to determine the areas of the longest patient wait time during their clinical encounter and evaluate the effect of an identification card system on those times. We hypothesized that utilizing an identification card system would expedite the time patients spend in the clinic and decrease wait times.

METHODS: This quality improvement study was conducted in an orthopedic hand surgery clinic within a military treatment facility. Pre-intervention and intervention data collection consisted of a time sheet that was filled out by surgeons and clinic staff as the patient progressed through their appointment. The intervention consisted of a card system to track the patient throughout their encounter and mark their order in the queue.

RESULTS: There were a total of 130 patients in the pre-intervention group and 113 in the intervention group. Compared with the pre-intervention group, the intervention group patients had significantly less time from check-in to being roomed by the clinic staff with a mean of 13 ± 13 vs. 21 ± 19 minutes in the pre-intervention group (P < .001). In the pre-intervention cohort, the average clinic encounter was 66 ± 38 minutes compared to 57 ± 35 minutes in the intervention cohort, which was not statistically significant (P = .112). The time spent with the orthopedic surgeon and occupational therapists increased in the intervention group.

CONCLUSION: We provided a simple way to decrease patient wait times and increase time with the healthcare team, utilizing our existing clinic space. Time with the orthopedic surgeon significantly increased because of our intervention, while the overall clinic time trended down.

PMID:35986603 | DOI:10.1093/milmed/usac254

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