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New Method Decreased Wait Times at Urology Practice

Scheduling system has reduced month-long waits and increased quick visits for new patients

FRIDAY, July 24 (HealthDay News) -- In urological practices, a streamlined scheduling system may improve access for new patients, according to a study published in the August issue of the Journal of Urology.

Brent W. Snow, M.D., of the University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City, and colleagues implemented a scheduling system in which 10 percent of appointments were reserved for new patients during a week which had a clinic with open slots. Over the next four weeks, they increased the allotment by 10 percent per week until 50 percent of the appointments were being reserved for new patients.

The researchers found that appointment delay times were significantly reduced, from 56 to 16 percent in the more than 31-days category. However, they found that they did not achieve their stated goal: seeing all new patients within five working days from their first call to the office. After two years, they said that only 20 percent of new patients are seen within a week.

"This improved access system has substantially decreased waiting delay times for new urological patient visits and, unexpectedly, for return patients," the authors conclude. "There are practical matters that impact the ability of any specialty office to reap the full benefit of this scheduling scheme. However, it is our impression that any urological office with long appointment wait times can potentially make a valuable impact by implementing this system."

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