EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The National Training Center on Quality Assurance, Quality Improvement and Evaluation has developed new tools and resources designed to reduce wasted time and energy and improve clinic flow.

  • The clinic efficiency dashboard is an online tool designed to help family planning clinic managers and staff to assess and monitor their productivity, clinic flow, and patient experience over time. A companion data guide is available to help collect, enter, and analyze the data.
  • A quality improvement guide outlines key clinic efficiency indicators, common challenges, and best practices based on the literature and successful strategies used by learning collaborative teams, and resources to improve clinic efficiency.

Concerns about financial sustainability and the changing healthcare environment are placing pressure on family planning service clinics to increase efficiency, improve patient experience, and explore alternative models of care.

The Boston-based Family Planning National Training Center on Quality Assurance, Quality Improvement and Evaluation, which provides training and technical assistance to support Title X grantees and subrecipients in implementing programs to promote efficiency, improve performance and conduct evaluations, has developed new tools and resources designed to reduce wasted time and energy and improve clinic flow.

The tools and resources are the next step in improving patients’ experience now that Quality Family Planning (QFP) principles are in place. In 2014, the CDC and the Office of Population Affairs of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services(HHS) issued the Recommendations for Providing Quality Family Planning Services to define what services should be offered in a family planning visit and offer information on how to improve the quality of family planning services.1

(To read more on the QFP debut, see “New guidance uses best evidence to direct family planning

services” in the August 2014 issue of Contraceptive Technology Update at: http://bit.ly/2e2H9S5.)

Why is it so important to improve the patient experience now that QFP principles are in place?

Quality family panning enhances patient experience by offering guidance on providing services in an evidence-based, patient-centered way, explains Katie Saul, MPH, a consultant at John Snow, Inc. (JSI), a Boston-based public health management consulting and research organization. The organization operates under an agreement with the HHS Office of Population Affairs to operate five federally-funded national training centers to develop and deliver training and technical support to Title X family planning grantees and service sites.

The approach focuses on two key elements of patient experience, patient-staff interactions and patient care, which help ensure high-quality family planning services, states Saul, who serves as manager of the National Training Center for Quality Assurance, Quality Improvement, and Evaluation.

“Improving patient experience also entails examining a setting’s environment and systems, including the time it takes to get an appointment, wait time during a visit, and the cleanliness and comfort of the facility,” says Saul. “QFP, along with several resources developed by the Family Planning National Training centers, offer a great starting point for family planning providers to improve patient experience.”

The national center has put several resources at clinicians’ and administrators’ fingertips to aid in improving patient flow. First is the clinic efficiency dashboard, an online tool designed to help family planning clinic managers and staff to assess and monitor their productivity, clinic flow, and patient experience over time. The user-friendly data entry and dynamic data visualizations have been developed to facilitate data-driven quality improvement. A companion data guide also is available to help collect, enter, and analyze clinic efficiency data using the dashboard tool.

(Access the dashboard at http://bit.ly/2dp3sSW, and the data guide at http://bit.ly/2e2Pk0x.)

Once data is collected, managers can use “Using Data to Increase Clinic Efficiency: A Quality Improvement Guide,” which is designed to facilitate efforts for areas needing improvement as indicated by dashboard data. The guide outlines key clinic efficiency indicators, common challenges, best practices based on the literature and successful strategies used by learning collaborative teams, and resources to improve clinic efficiency.

(Access the guide at http://bit.ly/2earkfR.)

Administrators and providers are busy and have so many competing priorities, says Jennifer Kawatu, senior consultant at JSI.

“Most family planning providers think they are already doing a good job —and they usually are,” notes Kawatu. “But, we find there is still room for improvement.”

Patient expectations have changed greatly over time, Kawatu observes. What used to satisfy patients just doesn’t seem to work any more, she states.

“Young patients in particular are looking to get in and out quickly, and to feel the services are judgment-free and hassle-free,” says Kawatu.

Those involved with the Family Planning National Training Center on Quality Assurance, Quality Improvement and Evaluation worked together to make a set of tools that are as easy as possible for busy administrators to use, explains Kawatu. The Patient Experience Toolkit is organized so it can be used as a source for just one tool at a time, or it can be done as a six-month “program” that a staff can work through together, she states.

(Access the toolkit at http://bit.ly/1tg2rMK.)

Program developers tried to make all of the resources as easy as possible to use without taking too much preparation on the part of busy administrators, states Kawatu.

“The schedule, plans, agendas, tools, and discussion points are all there, so a clinic staff can pick them up and get started right away by working through each section one at a time,” Kawatu says. “There are videos staff can watch together, sample tools [such as] patient experience surveys, and patient experience assessment tools, like a checklist you can use as you walk around your clinic to see where you might be able to improve, and the Clinic Efficiency Dashboard that can be used for monitoring and tracking progress over time.”

REFERENCE

  1. Gavin L, Moskosky S, Carter M, et al; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Providing quality family planning services: Recommendations of CDC and the U.S. Office of Population Affairs. MMWR Recomm Rep 2014; 63(RR-04):1-54.