Year of Publication

2016

College

Public Health

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)

Committee Chair

Sarah Wackerbarth, PhD

Committee Member

Richard C. Ingram, DrPH

Committee Member

Martha C. Riddell, DrPH

Abstract

Objective: The Affordable Care Act expanded health care coverage and provided more access to physicians, resulting in potentially longer wait times. Large portions of ophthalmology patients are on Medicare. Two thirds of the expansion populations were Hispanic or African Americans, which have higher rates of eye disease. Another contributoring factor leading to the increase for eye care is the surge of baby boomers. More specifically, these are individuals reaching sixty-five and are beginning to utilize Medicare. Access to care has increased but the capacity of the practice has not. An important goal, therefore, is to maximize efficiency of current resources.

Methods: Empirical research to analyze existing data of arrival time, service time, patient types and the flow of patients between June 1 – August 31, 2016. The data was collected using a practice management system, “Nextech.”

Results: A total of 823 patient appointments were evaluated. The weighted average of appointments was 77 minutes. Four patient types exceeded that amount. According to data recorded, appointment slots should be reevaluated to account for the longer average.

Conclusions: Every health care organization should know how to choose the most appropriate method of appointment scheduling based on patient needs. Examination of patient scheduling is an important tool for efficient outpatient department management.

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