Streamlining the Office Practice: Naval Hospital Pensacola

Naval Hospital Pensacola (Pensacola, Florida, USA), improves access and efficiency through IHI's Office Practice Collaborative. 
 
The Naval Hospital Pensacola (Florida) found that, when it began working on advanced patient access as a member of IHI’s IMPACT network, it improved access to care and practice efficiency at the same time.
 
As a result, physicians in the hospital’s pediatric clinic saw more patients each month without feeling overworked, as they often seemed to feel in the past, says Connie Vallandingham, a health systems specialist at the hospital.
 
In October 2002 the pediatric clinic saw 1,350 patients per month. One year later, the clinic had 1,671 patients, a 23.7 percent increase, notes Vallandingham. Additionally, the time patients spent in the clinic dropped from an average of about 60 minutes in October 2002 to about 34 minutes a year later, freeing the four physicians and two nurse practitioners to spend time with other patients and conduct training.
 
When the program started, the clinic wanted to reduce its patient backlog and eliminate inefficiencies. Patients were spending too much time waiting for exam rooms to become available, in part because nurses were using these rooms as offices. By making a portion of the waiting room into a nursing center, the clinic opened up additional exam rooms. Then, by having each patient check in and go directly to see a provider, the clinic eliminated waiting time in the reception area, improving patient flow.
 
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At the same time, the clinic also made a conscious effort to match patients with their assigned health care providers. In 2002, only about 27 percent of patients were seeing their assigned providers. A year later, the match rate was up to 57 percent.
 
“If we get the right person doing the right job, then we should be able to take some of the workload off the providers to open up more of each provider’s time,” explains Vallandingham.
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