Electronic tracking of patients in an outpatient ophthalmology clinic to improve efficient flow: A feasibility analysis and benchmarking study

Eric L. Singman, Chantal V. Haberman, Jeffrey Appelbaum, Jing Tian, Karen Shafer, Matthew Toerper, Susanne Katz, Maureen Kelsay, Michael V. Boland, Milton Greenbaum, Rebecca Adelman, Richard C. Thomas, Sharif Vakili

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Introduction: Real-time location systems (RTLS) and Lean management approaches have been employed to improve patient flow in clinical settings. This study explored the feasibility of using these methodologies in an outpatient resident ophthalmology clinic. Methods: Patients, providers, and staff in Wilmer Eye Institute General Eye Services Clinicwere provided RTLS tags to track theirmovement throughout the clinic after observational studies modeling flow were conducted. Tracking data guided changes for clinic processes based on Leanmanagement approaches, including reorganization of the reception desk, consolidation of forms, creation of task sheets to improve communication, installation of door flags on examination rooms, and training the staff in service excellence. Tracking was repeated after changes were implemented. A patient satisfaction survey was also conducted prior to and after the changes. Results: After intervention, significant increases were measured in the average time patients spent in the clinic (99.3 minutes vs 112.8 minutes). Significant decreases were seen in the times patients spent with the optometrists (15.4 minutes vs 12.1 minutes), testing (24.7 minutes vs 23.0 minutes), and together with both the attending and the resident (8.3 minutes vs 5.8 minutes). The patient satisfaction survey indicated improvements in patients' perception of the helpfulness/friendliness of the staff, the length of time patients perceived they waited, and overall clinic experience. Discussion: Both RTLS and Lean management approaches may be feasible ways to track and improve patient flow and satisfaction if certain limitations can be overcome. This is the first published report describing these approaches applied to an academic ophthalmology clinic in the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)190-199
Number of pages10
JournalQuality management in health care
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 11 2015


  • Clinic efficiency
  • Electronic tracking sensor
  • Lean
  • Ophthalmology
  • Practice benchmark
  • Resident education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy
  • Care Planning


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