Background: Paper faxing of clinical data (such as demographics, treatment, and pregnancy status) to local health departments (LHDs) for investigation can be a time consuming process for family planning staff. In Utah, all positive chlamydia (CT) and gonorrhea (GC) cases are initiated for investigation resulting in a significant amount of paper-based work. Time-Motion (T-M) studies are an effective way of assessing the time spent on manual processes and task accomplishment. This project aimed to estimate how much time per year family planning staff in Utah spend manually sending clinical data on positive STD cases to LHDs.
Methods: Two separate T-M studies were conducted at two Salt Lake City family planning clinics and their call center in August 2014 and January 2015. One Certified Medical Assistant and one call center staff recorded the time spent sending positive STD case information from family planning to LHDs; this included paper work, faxes, phone calls, electronic health record computer time, and email. The two study results were averaged together.
Results: Between 2009 and 2014, family planning sites delivered an average of 1,600 positive CT results and 100 positive GC results to clients per year. A total of 153 observations were recorded for the T-M studies, which revealed that family planning staff spent an average of 4.22 minutes per positive STD case sending clinical data (including demographics and treatment) to LHDs. Cumulatively, approximately 120 hours per year are spent manually transmitting clinical data elements. These results are thought to be a low estimate as mental and physical case preparation time were not recorded.
Conclusions: A valuable proportion of family planning staff time, and LHD time, could potentially be diverted to other work (such as more appointments, longer consultations, or targeted investigations) if clinical data elements could be sent via electronic methods rather than manual methods.