Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association

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Time to wait: a systematic review of strategies that impact outpatient waiting times

Ugenthiri Naiker , Gerard Fitzgerald , Joel Dulhunty , Michael Rosemann


Abstract Objective: Outpatient waiting times pose a significant challenge for public patients in need of specialist evaluation and intervention. The aim of this study was to identify and to categorise effective strategies to reduce waiting times for specialist outpatient services with a focus on the Australian healthcare system. Methods: A systematic review of major health databases was conducted using the key terms “outpatient*” AND “waiting time”, “process*” AND “improvement in outpatient clinics”. Identified articles were assessed for their relevance by sequential review of the title, abstract and full text. References of the selected manuscripts were scanned for additional relevant articles. Selected articles were evaluated for consistent and emergent themes. Results: There were 152 articles screened of which 38 were included in this review. Numerous strategies identified in the articles were consolidated into 26 consistent approaches. Three overarching themes were identified as significantly impacting waiting times: resource realignment, operational efficiency and process improvement. Conclusions: Strategies to align resources, increase operational efficiency and improve processes provide a comprehensive approach which may reduce outpatient waiting times.

AH16275  Accepted 01 February 2017

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