Improving Efficiency While Improving Patient Care in a Student-Run Free Clinic

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Abstract

Introduction:

Student-run free clinics (SRFCs) have the capacity to decrease health care inequity in underserved populations. These facilities can benefit from improved patient experience and outcomes. We implemented a series of quality improvement interventions with the objectives to decrease patient wait times and to increase the variety of services provided.

Methods:

A needs assessment was performed. Problems related to time management, communication between staff and providers, clinic resources, and methods for assessing clinic performance were identified as targets to reduce wait times and improve the variety of services provided. Seventeen interventions were designed and implemented over a 2-month period.

Results:

The interventions resulted in improved efficiency for clinic operations and reduced patient wait times. The number of specialty providers, patient visits for specialty care, lifestyle education visits for disease prevention and treatment, free medications, and free laboratory investigations increased to achieve the goal of improving the availability and the variety of services provided.

Conclusions:

We demonstrated that it is feasible to implement successful quality improvement interventions in SRFCs to decrease patient wait times and to increase the variety of services provided. We believe that the changes we implemented can serve as a model for other SRFCs to improve their performance.

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