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An evidence-based demand management strategy using a hub and spoke training model reduces waiting time for children's therapy services: An implementation trial

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posted on 2024-01-24, 04:45 authored by Katherine HardingKatherine Harding, Annie LewisAnnie Lewis, Amy DennettAmy Dennett, Kylie Hughes, Michelle Clarke, Nicholas TaylorNicholas Taylor
Background: Waiting lists for community-based paediatric therapy services are common and lead to poorer health outcomes, anxiety and missed opportunities for treatment during crucial developmental stages. The Specific Timely Appointments for Triage (STAT) model has been shown to reduce waiting lists in a range of health settings. Aims: To determine whether providing training and support in the STAT model to champions within five community health centres using a remote ‘hub and spoke’ approach could reduce waiting time from referral to first appointment. Methods: Representatives from five community health centres providing paediatric therapy services (speech therapy, occupational therapy and other allied health services) participated in five online workshops over 6 months. They were guided sequentially through the steps of the STAT model: understanding supply and demand, reducing backlogs, preserving space for new patients based on demand and redesigning models of care to maintain flow. Waiting time was measured in three consecutive years (pre, during and post intervention) and compared using the Kruskal–Wallis test. Employee satisfaction and perception of the model were explored using surveys. Results: Data from 2564 children (mean age 3.2 years, 66% male) showed a 33% reduction in waiting time from the pre-intervention (median 57 days) to the post-intervention period (median 38 days, p < 0.01). The total number of children waiting was observed to reduce from 335 immediately prior to the intervention (mean per centre 67, SD 25.1) to 112 (mean 22, SD 13.6) after implementation (t[8] = 3.56, p < 0.01). There was no impact on employee satisfaction or other aspects of service delivery. Conclusion: Waiting lists are a major challenge across the health system. STAT provides a practical, low-cost, data-driven approach to tackling waiting times. This study demonstrates its effectiveness in paediatric therapy services and provides evidence for a ‘hub and spoke’ approach to facilitate implementation that could be provided at scale.


The funding sources are Medical Research Future Fund – Translating Research into Practice (TRIP) Fellowship (APP1168314) and Department of Health, Victoria.


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Child: Care, Health and Development





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This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made. © 2023 The Authors. Child: Care, Health and Development published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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