The length of wait times for outpatient services shape patient’s views about the quality of care offered. The aim of this project is to evaluate the efficiency of outpatient procedures for quality assurance purposes. To achieve this, it will involve a summative evaluation of the workflow processes in order to determine their impact on wait times. Its specific objectives include:
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- To evaluate the outpatient care process of a hospital to determine the need for a reduction in wait times.
- To recommend improvements to the check-in and discharge systems that would enhance patient satisfaction.
Background and Significance
The research will be limited to the outpatient department in Burjeel Hospital located in Abu Dhabi. Burjeel Hospital is a leading private tertiary care centre that offers a range of specialist, diagnostic, outpatient, and inpatient services. The study will evaluate Burjeel’s patient processing systems with a view to propose a workflow improvement plan for reducing wait times and improve the quality of outpatient care.
The length of time spent in hospital waiting rooms is a key determinant of service quality. Studies attribute long wait times to staffing issues, including low staff/patient ratios. To the researchers’ knowledge, no study has used summative evaluation data to model the relationship between wait times and patient satisfaction. It is known that wait times influence patients’ perception of service quality. The proposed study will use summative evaluation results to determine the impact of the actual operations of Burjeel’s outpatient department on wait times.
Since wait times reflect the operational efficiency of a department, the study will focus on the actual time spent when checking in, before seeing a doctor, and during discharge. The central aim of the study is to evaluate the outpatient department with a view of identifying workflow problems that cause delays. Based on the evaluation data, the study will determine if the current systems are efficient or not. It will give recommendations on how the processes can be optimised to reduce wait times and improve patient satisfaction.
The length of wait times affects patient satisfaction with health care services. Camacho, Anderson, Safrit, Jones, and Hoffmann (2006) examined the relationship between wait duration and client satisfaction. The study found that less wait hours enhanced patient satisfaction with specialist care received and return rate. In a survey of a health care centre, Eilers (2004) found that implementing a quality improvement process to reduce registration times and enhance scheduling increases patient satisfaction. This means that a patient’s overall evaluation of a service depends on the approaches used to reduce delays.
Wait time covers the duration a person spends before seeing a doctor and the registration time (Anderson, Camacho & Balkrishnan, 2007). Longer wait times for physician care, medications, or admission lead to low patient satisfaction and outcomes. Studies have focused on methods of reducing wait times to enhance satisfaction. Kallen, Terrell, Lewis-Patterson, and Hwang (2012) implemented a wait-time management intervention at an ambulatory centre. The intervention reduced wait times, which led to higher patient satisfaction. The implementation of an appropriate performance management system to address demand and supply has also been linked to reduced wait times (Willcox et al., 2007).
It is evident from the literature that waiting time influences how patients perceive the quality of care they receive. This research will evaluate the outpatient systems, determine sources of delays, and assess outpatient care quality based on the views of the patients, nurses, and doctors. The researchers have already selected a sample of respondents who have consented to participate in the survey. Additionally, the researchers have obtained a permission letter from the hospital’s authorities allowing them to do the study.
Research Design and Methods
This research will use a summative evaluation approach to evaluate the impact of outpatient systems on wait times at Burjeel Hospital. Since the study will evaluate the outcomes of systems, a summative evaluation design that uses qualitative methods is appropriate for this study. The study will collect three types of data, namely, mean wait times, patient/staff ratio, and department processes/activities.
- Interviews – the study will conduct five interviews involving two patients, a doctor, a nurse, and a staff member.
- Surveys – this will involve the use of questionnaires to collect data
- Journal articles – peer-reviewed articles
- New sources – government publications
- Electronic sites – hospital website
- Medical databases – CINAHL and Medline
Data analysis will involve a qualitative approach. This will involve sorting and coding the data to generate common themes that will form the basis for the study’s recommendations. A detailed plan for data collection is as shown below.
|Timetable of Research|
|Week 4-5||Secondary Sources: online articles, medical databases, and journal articles||Global Issues||4 hours daily||A|
|Week 6-7||Interviews||Seek the views of respondents||30-minute sessions |
One interview daily
|A and S|
|Week 8||Designing and administering the questionnaire||Asking questions||3 hours||N|
|Week 9||Data analysis and compilation of the final report||–||–||A, N, and S|
It is evident that excessive wait times affect patient perceptions of the quality of care received. This study will evaluate the outpatient processes and activities at the Burjeel Hospital to determine their impact on wait times and patient satisfaction. The study’s summative evaluation relates to three outcomes of the course. First, based on the evaluation results, the researcher will propose a workflow plan for reducing wait times in the outpatient department.
This aim relates with the ‘workflow improvement’ learning outcome of the TQM tools course. Secondly, the researcher will use decision analysis (queuing technique) to recommend improvements to the check-in and discharge systems to eliminate processing delays. This aim relates to the queuing the decision analysis learning outcome of the ‘strategic decisions’ course. Thirdly, the researcher will recommend the use of patient satisfaction data to support quality outpatient care. This objective relates to the quality management systems, a learning outcome indicated in the international management system course.
Anderson, R., Camacho, F., Balkrishnan, R. (2007). Willing to wait?: The influence of patient wait time on satisfaction with primary care. BMC Health Services Research, 7(31), 1-6. Web.
Camacho, F., Anderson, R., Safrit, A., Jones, A., & Hoffmann, P. (2006). The Relationship between Patient’s Perceived Waiting Time and Office-Based Practice Satisfaction. NC Medical Journal, 67(6), 409-413. Web.
Eilers, G. (2004). Improving Patient Satisfaction With Waiting Time. Journal of American College Health, 53(1), 41-43. Web.
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Kallen, M., Terrell, J., Lewis-Patterson, P., & Hwang, J. (2012). Improving Wait Time for Chemotherapy in an Outpatient Clinic at a Comprehensive Cancer Center. Journal of Oncology Practice, 8(1), 1-7. Web.
Willcox, S., Seddon, M., Dunn, S., Tudor, R., Pearse, J., & Tu, J. (2007). Marketing Watch: Measuring And Reducing Waiting Times: A Cross-National Comparison Of Strategies. Health Affairs, 26(4), 1078-1087. Web.
|Strengths ||Weaknesses |
|Opportunities ||Threats |