Hourly-block and standard patient scheduling systems at two private hospitals in Alexandria
Ashraf Ahmad Zaher Zaghloul1, Nagwa Younes Abou El Enein2
1Health Services Administration Department, College of Health Sciences, University of Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates; 2Department of Health Administration and Behavioural Sciences, High Institute of Public Health, University of Alexandria, Alexandria, Egypt
Introduction: Patient appointment systems are of great importance for efficiently managing outpatient clinics as well as patient satisfaction as an indirect indicator for quality care rendered.
Purpose: To describe the hourly block and standard sequential scheduling appointment systems at two different hospitals, as well as to assess the patients' opinions regarding their waiting time in both systems.
Study settings: The study was conducted at ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) clinics in two of the biggest and reputable private hospitals in Alexandria. Hospital A follows the standard appointment system and Hospital B follows the hourly block appointment system.
Study design: A cross-sectional descriptive study was designed to compare the two settings.
Results: For new cases, the mean time was longer for the standard system with regards to access time (12.2 ± 5.9) days, while the mean time was longer in the hourly block system with regards to punctuality, waiting time, and consultation time (28.5 ± 12.3, 27.5 ± 17.1, and 14.5 ± 9.0 minutes, respectively). For return cases, the mean time was longer for the standard system with regards to access and punctuality times (14.5 ± 6.1 days and 48.9 ± 27.0 minutes, respectively), while the highest mean times in the hourly block system were for waiting and consultation (19.4 ± 6.9 and 12.3 ± 3.9 minutes, respectively). Most of the patients in both systems preferred the standard appointment system to the hourly block system (73.3% for Hospital A and 55.0% for Hospital B).
Conclusion: Every health care organization should know how to choose the most appropriate method of appointment system and how best to organize it to meet the needs of its patients. Patient scheduling is an important tool for efficient outpatient department management as well as rationally operating outpatient resources and critical areas like physician productivity, patient satisfaction, and practice profits.
Keywords: appointment, schedule, waiting time
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