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Improving service delivery by evaluation of the referral pattern and capacity in a clinical genetics setting

McCann, Emma, Baines, Elizabeth, Gray, Jonathon and Procter, Annie M. 2009. Improving service delivery by evaluation of the referral pattern and capacity in a clinical genetics setting. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part C: Seminars in Medical Genetics 151C (3) , pp. 200-206. 10.1002/ajmg.c.30223

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Quality improvement in specialist services such as clinical genetics is challenging largely due to the complexity of the service and the difficulty in obtaining accurate, reproducible, and measurable data. The objectives were to evaluate the pattern of referrals to the All Wales Medical Genetics Service (AWMGS) North Wales Genetics team based in three separate hospitals, define the capacity of the team and implement change to improve equity, timeliness and efficiency of care delivery to patients. The methodology required collating the monthly referral rates retrospectively for each center over a 2.5-year period and plotting on statistical process control charts. Process mapping of the referral process in each center was undertaken, differences documented and a common pathway implemented. “Did not attend” and “time to first appointment” rates were also measured in one center. PDSA methodology was used to implement “patient focused booking.” The results show that the range for referral rates in any given month for each center was 3–33 referrals. The range for referral rate for the whole team was 18–64 per month. Since January 2004 the average number of monthly referrals to the North Wales service has increased by 50%. The potential range in monthly referrals varies between centers and the range of the variability has also increased also in two out of the three centers. Introduction of Patient Focused Booking reduced the “Failed to Attend” rate and 100% of patients were offered a choice of appointments. In addition 100% had a first face-to-face contact within 6 weeks if they chose. The measurement of improvement involved firstly introducing a series of continuous measures to provide a baseline for the process prior to the implementation of any changes and secondly to indicate the impact of the changes following implementation. The measures implemented included process (referrals numbers, percentage of patients offered a choice of appointments), outcome (percentage of patients seen within 6 weeks and the percentage failing to attend), and balancing measures (percentage declining the service or failing to respond). It was concluded that general tools of quality improvement can be used to good effect within specialist services. Good processes and accurate, reproducible and measurable data are essential. Small changes can have a major impact both on the quality of the service offered and the ability to deliver the service.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH426 Genetics
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: healthcare quality; medical genetics; patient-centered care; quality indicators; healthcare referral and consultation
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN: 1552-4868
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2017 02:34

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