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An innovative model of access and triage to reduce waiting in an outpatient epilepsy clinic: an intervention study
journal contributionposted on 2023-11-20, 04:38 authored by Annie LewisAnnie Lewis, Nicholas TaylorNicholas Taylor, PW Carney, Xia LiXia Li, Katherine HardingKatherine Harding
Background: Delayed access to outpatient care may negatively impact on health outcomes. We aimed to evaluate implementation of the Specific Timely Appointments for Triage (STAT) model of access in an epilepsy clinic to reduce a long waitlist and waiting time. Methods: This study is an intervention study using pre-post comparison and an interrupted time series analysis to measure the effect of implementation of the STAT model to an epilepsy clinic. Data were collected over 28 months to observe the number of patients on the waitlist and the waiting time over three time periods: 12 months prior to implementation of STAT, ten months during implementation and six months post-intervention. STAT combines one-off backlog reduction with responsive scheduling that protects time for new appointments based on historical data. The primary outcomes were the number of patients on the waitlist and the waiting time across the three time periods. Secondary outcomes evaluated pre- and post-intervention changes in number of appointments offered weekly, non-arrival and discharge rates. Results: A total of 938 patients were offered a first appointment over the study period. The long waitlist was almost eliminated, reducing from 616 during the pre-intervention period to 11 post-intervention (p = 0.002), but the hypothesis that waiting time would decrease was not supported. The interrupted time series analysis indicated a temporary increase in waiting time during the implementation period but no significant change in slope or level in the post- compared to the pre-intervention period. Direct comparison of the cohort of patients seen in the pre- and post-intervention periods suggested an increase in median waiting time following the intervention (34 [IQR 25–86] to 46 [IQR 36–61] days (p = 0.001)), but the interquartile range reduced indicating less variability in days waited and more timely access for the longest waiters. Conclusions: The STAT model was implemented in a specialist epilepsy outpatient clinic and reduced a large waitlist. Reductions in the waitlist were achieved with little or no increase in waiting time. The STAT model provides a framework for an alternative way to operate outpatient clinics that can help to ensure that all people referred are offered an appointment in a timely manner.