PIP Spotlight: Decreasing Wait Times for Patients in an Outpatient Clinic

Jacalyn Kawiecki, MD, submitted this Practice Improvement Project (PIP) after analyzing and taking steps to reduce patient wait times at her clinic.

Thank you to Dr. Kawiecki for submitting this PIP!

The PIP Spotlight is a periodic feature on News Center to highlight exemplary Practice Improvement Projects submitted by your fellow diplomates (or residents) for maintenance of certification (MOC) Part IV credit. Diplomates can use the PIP Spotlight as a tool to plan their own PIPs or as a way to connect with other diplomates doing similar work.

What is the problem you are trying to solve?

Long wait times in an outpatient clinic can reduce access to care and decrease patient satisfaction. The current wait time for patients at my practice averages 15 minutes.

What data (objective measurements) do you have that supports this as a problem?

Both the clinic sign-in sheet for patients and the doctor sign-in sheet were used to track wait times.

What is your opportunity statement? State the goal you hope to achieve.

The goal was to improve patient wait time to five minutes within one month.

What is the underlying cause of the performance/quality problem?

Potential causes include: • The patient arrived, but no staff checked the patient in • The patient didn't know the check-in process • Physician schedules are not conducive to staying on schedule • Clinic staffs' efficiency and effectiveness in clinic patient flow not ideal • Medical records missing for the patient appointment

What change(s) did you implement?

I developed a pre-visit clinic appointment checklist that includes obtaining medical records. Office staff now review the pre-clinic appointment checklist three days before the appointment to be sure all aspects of the checklist have been completed.

I also created a clinic sign-in/discharge log, as well as a physician sign-in log to the clinic room, to objectively track wait time for the patient, as well as overall time in the clinic.

Did you achieve your goal or target from your opportunity statement? What data do you have to support your conclusion?

Yes, we met our goal. After one month, review indicates wait time is at 0-5 minutes.

Will you continue with the changes you have implemented?

Clinic staff will continue to utilize the pre-appointment checklist, the clinic sign-in/discharge log, and the physician sign-in log to the clinic room to objectively track wait time for the patient as well as overall time in the clinic. Further process improvement will include a goal of zero wait time.

Originally Published: March 23, 2020