This was an innovation project supported by the Better Care Victoria Innovation Fund.
Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH)
Healthcare Resource Optimization
Outpatient clinics at the RCH see more than 240,000 people a year. Demand for services is growing, with families often facing long delays for an appointment.
In some clinics with particularly high demand, patients can wait as long as a year for a semi-urgent appointment and even longer for a routine appointment. One such clinic is the RCH general medicine clinic, which accounts for about 20 per cent of the health service’s outpatient appointments.
Approximately 10 per cent of RCH general medicine clinic patients do not attend their appointment. This wastes an appointment that could otherwise have gone to another patient, and rescheduling requires additional staff time. The backlog this creates in the system can also lead to longer wait times for other patients.
Inspired by the airline industry, the RCH overbooked patients at its general medicine clinics so that they could fill appointments left vacant due to late cancellations, allowing more people to be seen.
- Reduce the number of vacant appointments in general medical outpatient clinics using predictive data tools
- Increase the number of new patients seen
- Reduce the median time in days from referral to new appointment
- Filled 85 vacant appointments in the RCH’s general medicine clinic, allowing more patients to be seen, maximising scheduled resources and increasing the clinic’s throughput by 8 per cent
- Removed 155 patients from the waiting list
- Received positive feedback, with 85 per cent of patients surveyed saying they were very or somewhat satisfied with the access clinic established as part of the pilot, and 80 per cent saying they were satisfied with the length of time it took to see a clinician
- Generated more than $8,000 in clinic revenue
November 2020 – Following the results of the pilot, the RCH began trialling the program in other clinics that also had high ‘did not attend’ rates and long waiting lists, including ophthalmology. However, the health service later decided not to renew the software licence.