The Center for Healthcare Improvement (CHI) at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) recently held a dinner to honor HMC staff members involved in the successful implementation of the referral-based fixed-time appointment system for outpatients.
The appointment system, which is part of the outpatient transformation program at HMC hospitals, helps ensure that patients see the right doctor at the right time, and that urgent or critical cases are given priority.
The CHI team developed the referral-based fixed-time appointment system and has been working closely with HMC hospitals in the planning and implementation of the system, which was launched at Hamad General Hospital in 2012.
Last year, the appointment system went live at five additional sites including Women’s Hospital, the Department of Dentistry, Al Khor Hospital, Al Wakra Hospital and the Maxillofacial Department.
During the celebration, key members of the implementation teams, including frontline staff, hospital management, and staff from the Referral and Booking Management Service (RBMS) as well as the HMC Patient Contact Center (HPCC), were honored.
“The fixed-time appointment system is a vital part of HMC’s commitment to providing the safest, most effective and compassionate care to our patients,” HMC’s Managing Director Dr Hanan Al-Kuwari said adding: “The program has significantly enhanced the patient experience at our hospitals by reducing waiting times and ensuring that our patients see the right doctor at the right time.”
The official maintained that the program’s successful implementation would not be possible without the excellent work of the CHI team and the support of the staff and management at all hospitals as well as the RBMS and HPCC teams, all of whom played important and effective roles in the initiative.
Speaking at the event, CHI Executive Director Nasser Al-Naimi said: “The success of the program required a team approach to referral management which led to the creation of the referral and booking management service. It required a team approach to patient triage which was embraced by clinical staff at each site. Finally, it required a commitment to managing the fixed-time appointment system itself, which required full co-operation and support by all the doctors; nurses and administrative staff, and of course the HPCC.”
“Once the systems were in place, the next phase was to educate our patients about the new system by developing an integrated media campaign with advertisements in newspapers, on billboards, online and with printed materials that you now have in your outpatient departments,” Al-Naimi stated while mentioning that the CHI was in the process of implementing the fixed-time appointment system at all remaining HMC sites and achieving the vision of having one appointment system for all patients.
Under the fixed-time appointment system, when a patient is referred to see a specialist by his or her doctor, the referral will go straight to the Referral Management Office at HMC, where a specialist will review the patient’s case and determine the level of urgency. The HPCC will then call the patient to arrange an appointment within the clinically advised time frame and at a convenient time for the patient.
With the new system, patients no longer need to visit the Outpatient Department to book an appointment based on a referral from Primary Healthcare or the Emergency Department. This means less waiting time at the clinic, and each patient will have protected time with the specialist. Patients will also be reminded of their appointment by phone and SMS.
The RBMS currently handles about 3,000 referrals per week, and the HPCC has made over 1.8 million phone calls to patients last year.