Dietitian first gastroenterology clinic: an initiative to reduce wait lists and wait times for gastroenterology outpatients in a tertiary hospital service

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Mutsekwa, Rumbidzai N
Canavan, Russell
Whitfield, Anthony
Spencer, Alan
Angus, Rebecca L
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Objective: The demand for outpatient gastroenterology medical specialist consultations is above what can be met within budgetary and staffing constraints. This study describes the establishment of a dietitian first gastroenterology clinic to address this issue, the patient journey and its impact on wait lists and wait times in a tertiary gastroenterology service.

Design: A dietitian first gastroenterology clinic model was developed and a mixed-methods approach used to evaluate the impact of the service over a 21-month period.

Setting: Gold Coast University Hospital, Queensland, Australia (a public tertiary hospital).

Patients: 658 patients were triaged to the clinic between June 2016 and March 2018.

Intervention: A dietitian first gastroenterology clinic for low-risk gastroenterology patients.

Main outcome: measures We examined demographic, referral, wait list, wait time and service activity data, patient satisfaction and patient journey.

Results: At the time of audit, 399 new (67.9% female) and 307 review patients had been seen. Wait times for eligible patients reduced from 280 to 66 days and the percentage of those in breach of their recommended wait times reduced from 95% to zero. The average time from referral to discharge was 117.8 days with an average of 2.4 occasions of service. 277 patients (69.4%) had been discharged to the care of their general practitioner and 43 patients (10.7%) had an expedited specialist medical review. Patient surveys indicated a high level of satisfaction.

Conclusion: A dietitian first gastroenterology model of care helps improve patient flow, reduces wait times and may be useful elsewhere to address outpatient gastroenterology service pressures.

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Frontline Gastroenterology

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Gastroenterology and hepatology

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