Performance assessment of appointment system in managing outpatients’ waiting time in a general hospital: A Case study

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Health Metrics Research Center, Iranian Institute for Health Sciences Research, ACECR, Tehran, Iran

2 Health Services Management Research Group of Health Metrics Research Center, Iranian Institute for Health Sciences Research, ACECR, Iran

3 Clinical Cancer Research Center, Milad General Hospital, Tehran, IR Iran


Background: Appointment scheduling system is a critical component in controlling patients’ waiting time, so can increase the efficiency and timely access to health services. It is also an important determinant of patient satisfaction. The aim of this study was to assess the relationship of using a scheduling system and outpatients’ waiting time in a general teaching hospital in Tehran, Iran.
Methods: This was a descriptive-analytical study performed cross-sectionally among outpatients referred to clinics of a non-teaching general hospital in Tehran in 2013. 3836 samples were selected from different stations. The sampling method was stratified randomized. Data were gathered by check lists. SPSS statistical software v.24 was used for data analysis. In addition to descriptive measures, Mann-Whitney non-parametric test and Pearson correlation test were used for data analysis.
Results: The mean waiting time at admission was estimated 6.6 minutes. Analysing the waiting time of patients in admission indicated that walk-in patients wait more than scheduled patients for admission (P<0.001).
Mean waiting time for physician visit was 75.7 minutes. Analysing the differences of waiting time of scheduled and walk- in patients for visit show their waiting time were not different (P= 0.206).
Conclusion: The studied appointment system was successfull in controlling patient arrival but failed to control waiting time for physicians visit. It seems that considering physician arrival schedules will be helpful for designing appointment system and reducing outpatients’ waiting time.