Decreasing Outpatient Behavioral Health Wait Times Using Lean/Six Sigma Techniques and the Open Access Evidence-based Model
The traditional behavioral health access model of calling for an appointment which is subsequently scheduled two to three weeks later, leads to prolonged wait times for clients thereby decreasing treatment compliance, staff productivity and population health and increasing organizational and community costs. The project utilized Lean/Six Sigma techniques to streamline processes, eliminate duplicate data points and paperwork and eliminate multiple appointments for behavioral health clients.
This resulted in a decrease in the client's average wait time from 15.22 days from first contact to first appointment to 4.73 days across all behavioral sites of care. Some sites experienced wait times of only 1.2 days. A same day/walk-in assessment and service provision model increased the individuals' engagement in service and thereby increased the first appointment show rates while decreasing the number of individuals who decide not to seek treatment or use the local emergency department for treatment.
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This case study is part of the Illinois Hospital Association's annual quality awards. Each year, IHA recognizes and celebrates the achievements of Illinois hospitals in continually improving and transforming health care in the state. These hospitals are improving health by striving to achieve the Triple Aim--improving the patient experience of care (including quality and satisfaction); improving the health of populations; and reducing the per capita cost of health care.
Award recipients achieve measurable and meaningful progress in providing care that is: