Patients are Waiting Less Time and Physicians are More Enthusiastic

Eden Haftay Beyem

Eden Haftay Beyem notes that one of the main challenges Ayder Referral Hospital faced is that there were a lot of patients and a shortage of physicians, which meant that patients were left waiting for hours to see a physician, and then rushed through their service.

Eden works in the outpatient care department at Ayder Referral Hospital in Mekelle, Ethiopia. She has seen patients waiting for hours, day in and day out. However, the staffing shortage is not the only factor in those patients’ waiting time; physician scheduling also played a part.

Physicians used to schedule their morning clinical audit from 8:00-10:00am.For some patients–who could arrive as early as 6:00am to begin queueing–that clinical audit could mean waiting nearly four hours just to be examined by a physician. Eden explained that sometimes the interns at the hospital would help see patients to counter the shortage, but patients were often uncomfortable with the resulting consultations.

Recently, department heads across Ayder Hospital began participating in the LMG Program, an adaptation of the Leadership Development Program Plus in Ethiopia. The LMG Program is an experiential, team-based training program that helps managers and teams of health workers identify and overcome challenges in their health facilities. After completing only two of four training sessions, the impact is already visible.

During the LMG Program, the teams identified the scheduling of morning clinical audit as detrimental to delivering quality services to their patients. As a result, the physicians agreed to move their audit to 11:00am. This meant that where patients used to spend 8:00-10:00am waiting, they are now being examined by physicians.

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Although Eden did not have the opportunity to benefit directly from the training, she can see the positive changes at Ayder Hospital. Patients are waiting less time and physicians are more enthusiastic about putting their patients first in the morning.

The team’s newfound leadership skills have turned things around. The department heads continually aim to reduce the average patient waiting time further. Reflecting on the LMG Program’s impact, Eden mentioned that while not everyone can participate in the LDP+ training, everyone certainly benefits from the changes.

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