Reducing unnecessary outpatient attendances

Int J Health Care Qual Assur. 2010;23(5):527-31. doi: 10.1108/09526861011050556.


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore unnecessary outpatient department attendances and to improve efficiency by actively pre-assessing patient charts and pre-specifying management plans before scheduled outpatient visits.

Design/methodology/approach: All charts were reviewed by a senior clinician two weeks before the clinic and a brief, written management plan made.

Findings: A significant reduction in clinic sizes by about 40 per cent can be expected. There was a non-significant increase in the ratio of new to review patients and no significant reduction in waiting lists.

Research limitations/implications: Pre-assessing patient charts leads to cancelling unnecessary outpatient reviews, which can increase outpatient department effectiveness.

Originality/value: Clinical efficiency is becoming increasingly important. This work describes a simple strategy to improve outpatient department productivity.

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care Facilities / organization & administration*
  • Efficiency, Organizational*
  • Humans
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / organization & administration
  • Workflow