Prolonged wait times for echocardiograms in the outpatient pediatric cardiology clinic led to patient and provider dissatisfaction at our institution. The aims of this project were to measure our baseline performance with regard to echocardiogram wait time (EWT), to implement a formal quality improvement (QI) program to improve EWT, and to measure the impact of QI on EWT.Methods:
A QI team was formed comprising of cardiologists (A.P., T.S.), sonographer (A.W.), and QI mentor (J.M.). EWT was defined as time in minutes from initiation of the order in the electronic medical record to start of the echocardiogram. Goal EWT was set as ≤ 20 minutes for 90% patients. Flowcharts were created after process observation to identify sources of potential delay contributing to EWT. QI methodology such as driver diagrams were utilized to identify interventions, which were then implemented and studied as Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles.Results:
Sequential interventions included early start time, huddles involving clinic and echo laboratory staff, patient tracking system, and repurposing of a clinic room for echo. EWT was tracked for 840 patients. Mean EWT was 22.5 ± 17.5 minutes at baseline and decreased to 15.3 ± 7.8 minutes postintervention (P < 0.001). Postintervention, 81% of the patients waited < 20 minutes for their echo, and 98% patients waited < 30 minutes, compared with baseline numbers of 62% and 76%, respectively (P < 0.001).Conclusions:
We were able to utilize QI methodology to derive interventions and track changes, resulting in quantifiable improvement in EWT in a busy pediatric echo laboratory.