Eliminating queues in Out-patient-departments (OPD’s) in hospitals
Objective(s): To streamline the process of hospital visits and minimize wait times for patients by using m-governence. A secondary objective was to improve transparency and accountability in the OPD’s Achievements of the programme/project?
1. Following this initiative, patients no longer have to queue for appointments with doctors/ stand in line for registration and can take appointments from the comfort of their homes
2. The wait time to be seen by the doctor has drastically been cut down to less than 2 hour for the majority of the patients
3. In case the doctor is unavailable or there is change in schedule, an intimation by SMS is sent to the patients and appointments rescheduled
4. The token number sent as SMS remains the queue number which is displayed on electronic display boards in real time outside each doctor’s chamber.
5. The OPD area is dramatically less crowded leading to better ambience and staff response.
6. For the first time statistics on the number of patients waiting to be seen by a clinician/ specialty will be available to the government so that necessary policy changes can be made.
1. Skepticism regarding the initiative: Majority of the staff members were skeptic that such a simple initiative could transform healthcare delivery in the OPD setting. However, after actually seeing the results, the staff was more cooperative.
2. To have OPD cards and their paper record ready in the day of the appointment: This was initially a challenge. The solution was to send a list one day in advance by the tele-centre of all patients scheduled for visit on a given day. Thus OPD cards & files are taken out in advance by the OPD staff
3. Patients expectations: The expectation of the patients zoomed after the implementation of the initiative and we had to work extra hard (deploy additional staff & minimize errors)to live up their expectations Our success with this initiative shows that this model can be easily replicated all over India without major effort. The most important requirement is the will and initiative of the hospital in having it implemented
What we deliver?
Content: token number, appointment time, approximate wait times Services: reminder service, appointment booking, universal 24 X 7 call centre support
Why is the project unique?
1. It is for the first time that initiative has been taken by a government hospital to make OPD visits more ‘patient friendly’
2. It is for the first time that mobile phone is being used as primary mode for registration for appointments and for delivery (by sms) of token number and approximate wait times in the setting of a government hospital.
3. It is for the first time that such an initiative is being done completely free of cost to the patients.
Dr Deepak Agrawal
JPN Apex Trauma Centre, AIIMS
Raj Nagar, New Delhi, Delhi – 110029, India.