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Student Contribution  |   January 2005
Assessment of Patient Flow in Routine Office Visits: Perspectives on Minimizing Patient Visiting Time
Author Affiliations
  • Xinqi Xu, MD
    Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM), Erie, Pa; Saint Dominics Family Practice, Jamaica, NY.
Article Information
Practice Management
Student Contribution   |   January 2005
Assessment of Patient Flow in Routine Office Visits: Perspectives on Minimizing Patient Visiting Time
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, January 2005, Vol. 105, 22-23. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2005.105.1.22
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, January 2005, Vol. 105, 22-23. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2005.105.1.22
Web of Science® Times Cited: 2
Background: Patient's care is an integral part of physician-patient relationship. This includes the time that patients spend with their primary care providers. There has been a number of studies to assess improvement on quality of time visit to more efficient care, and adherence issues pertaining to patient's attendance of the office visit. Therefore, the purpose of this research work was to analyze where patients spend most of their time while visiting a clinic. 
Methods: We used St Dominics Family Practice Center in Queens, New York, for this study. We determined average time a patient spends at this particular clinic by using an assessment methodology: concept call cycle time. The total cycle time is defined as the length of time between when a patient arrives at the clinic and when he or she leaves. 
By using a patient flow survey, we randomly followed 100 patients from the time they entered the clinic till about the time they leave. We divided the patient's journey in the clinic into stations and determined the time spent waiting for and time spent at each station. 
Results: The results of our study showed that majority of the patients that visited St Dominics Family Practice spent most of their time waiting for a physician, which the entire visit lasted on an average of 2 hours and 12 minutes. When we compared our data to that of the previous year done by other investigators, we have found that the average time in the clinic has improved by 33 minutes. The most important contributing factor to minimizing the office time was attributed to the medical assistance personnel that took patients vital signs soon after registration. Another contributing factor was an efficient communication between the medical assistance personnel and the nursing station, which necessitated a series of staff meetings to improve upon their skills in dealing with patient's needs in a swift and productive manner. 
Conclusion: This study should be used as a model for learning how to improve the time patients spend in a clinic. 
The principal author is thankful to Dr Reza Nassiri, Professor of Clinical Pharmacology and Medical Virology at LECOM for the helpful discussions on this project.