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Development of a primary care physician task list to evaluate clinic visit workflow

Abstract

Background Interventions designed to improve the delivery of primary care, including Patient-Centered Medical Homes and electronic health records, require an understanding of clinical workflow to be successfully implemented. However, there is a lack of tools to describe and study primary care physician workflow. We developed a comprehensive list of primary care physician tasks that occur during a face-to-face patient visit.

Methods A validated list of tasks performed by primary care physicians during patient clinic visits was developed from a secondary data analysis of observation data from two studies evaluating primary care workflow. Thirty primary care physicians participated from a convenience sample of 17 internal medicine and family medicine clinics in Wisconsin and Iowa across rural and urban settings and community and academic settings.

Results The final task list has 12 major tasks, 189 subtasks, and 191 total tasks. The major tasks are: Enter Room, Gather Information from Patient, Review Patient Information, Document Patient Information, Perform, Recommend / Discuss Treatment Options, Look Up, Order, Communicate, Print / Give Patient (advice, instructions), Appointment Wrap-up, and Leave Room. Additional subcodes note use of paper or EHR and the presence of a caregiver or medical student.

Conclusions The task list presented here is a tool that will help clinics study their workflows so they can plan for changes that will take place because of EHR implementation and/or transformation to a patient centered medical home.

  • Primary care
  • workflow
  • task analysis
  • EHR
  • adverse events
  • epidemiology and detection
  • human factors
  • medication safety
  • failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA)
  • hospital medicine
  • compliance
  • human error

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