Audit of a new appointments system in a hospital outpatient clinic

M Jennings
BMJ: British Medical Journal 1991 January 19, 302 (6769): 148-9

OBJECTIVE: To assess the effect of a new appointments system on patients' waiting time.

DESIGN: Replacement of an existing system of regularly spaced appointments at 10 minute intervals with one in which the doctor arranged appointments according to his perception of individual patients' requirements, from December 1988 to June 1989.

SETTING: One general medical outpatient clinic.

PATIENTS: All (181) [corrected] patients under regular review with fixed appointment times during six months; those arriving for blood testing before the start of the clinic and those requiring ambulance transport were excluded.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Mean waiting time (mean of difference between appointment time and start of consultation), maximum waiting time, number of patients, and total duration of clinics.

RESULTS: Mean waiting time was reduced by about 30 minutes (from 39.6 to 9.5 mins) over the six months. There was no change in the number of patients attending (mean 15.8 v 15.4) or the duration of the clinics (mean 187 v 160 mins).

CONCLUSION: Efficiency was improved by simple adjustment to the appointments system used in the hospital outpatient clinic.

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