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Does clinical validation and the implementation of new models of outpatient service delivery have the potential to reduce waiting lists? A pilot study in Letterkenny University Hospital

Abstract

Introduction

The traditional outpatient paradigm of seeing patients prior to diagnostic tests and treatment is unsustainable without additional funding. New models of service delivery such as “one-stop clinics”, direct access to diagnostics and advanced nurse practitioner (ANP)-led clinics have the potential to improve the efficiency of existing services.

Methods

To determine the most effective changes to improve service provision, the reasons for encounter (RFE) to a urology clinic were assessed using the International Classification Primary Care. To test these changes, a clinical validation process was performed on existing waiting patients waiting ≥ 15 months. Direct access to diagnostics and an ANP-led clinic were introduced. The impact of this validation process was measured prospectively using independently-collated National Treatment Purchase Fund waiting list data.

Results

From January to December 2017, 1114 new patients were referred. The 3 most frequent RFEs were haematuria, urinary frequency/urgency and cystitis and accounted for 48% of referrals overall. A new outpatient pathway, combining direct access to diagnostics and an ANP-led clinic, was implemented on 508 existing patients waiting ≥ 15 months. The validation process resulted in referral directly to a consultant-led clinic in 36%, to an ANP-led clinic in 12%, direct access to diagnostics in 38% and removal in 13%. This change was implemented in July 2017 and there was a 76% reduction in the number of patients waiting ≥ 12 months by December 2017.

Conclusion

New models of outpatient service delivery have the potential to reduce existing waiting lists and could be implemented in other Irish hospital groups.

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Acknowledgements

PEL is the Aspire Fellow in Quality Improvement in Surgery funded through the National Doctor Training Programme of the Health Service Executive, Ireland.

Author information

Correspondence to Eamonn Rogers.

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Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval and consent

No identifiable patient data were used. Data were obtained via an electronic hospital system and were anonymised to ensure patient confidentiality. Data were stored on a fire-walled computer with coded access.

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Lonergan, P.E., Logan, J., Diver, S. et al. Does clinical validation and the implementation of new models of outpatient service delivery have the potential to reduce waiting lists? A pilot study in Letterkenny University Hospital. Ir J Med Sci (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11845-020-02183-w

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Keywords

  • Clinic
  • Implementation
  • Improvement
  • Outpatient
  • Urology