How to conduct a time study

How to conduct a time study

Five steps for analyzing outpatient flow in your practice.
Jan 01, 2010
By staff

Consultant Pamela Stevenson, CVPM, says a time study is a great tool for analyzing outpatient flow in your practice. "It's one of the quickest and easiest ways to get a grip on an undefined problem," she says. Here's how to do it:

1. Inform the team. Employees need to know that this isn't a pointless exercise; it's a way to identify problems that keep your practice from offering the best service. What's more, team members' role in recording the data is crucial—without accurate information, you can't pinpoint the best solutions.

2. Create time sheets. Set up a system for recording each client's reason for visiting the practice, the veterinarian he or she saw, and the time at different stages of the visit.

3. Conduct the study. During a two-week period, record the following for all clients who visit for practice services: the time of arrival, the time they enter an exam room, the time a doctor enters that exam room, the time the doctor leaves, and the time the client checks out. Create a sheet that travels with the client for team members to record these times.

4. Analyze the results. Once the study is complete, enter the data in an Excel spreadsheet, noting any problematic client wait times.

5. Develop a plan. Once you see what (and who) the problems are, gather the team together to brainstorm solutions. Develop target goals for your next time study in six months' time.

Click here for forms and examples to help you complete a time study.