Interventions to reduce wait times for primary care appointments

Added May 8, 2020

Citation: Ansell D, Crispo JAG, Simard B, et al. Interventions to reduce wait times for primary care appointments: a systematic review. BMC Health Services Research 2017; 17: 295

What is this? The COVID-19 pandemic is placing a strain on healthcare services. Existing research on the effects of interventions intended to reduce wait times in primary care may provide policy makers with information to help with this.

In this systematic review, the authors searched for research evaluating interventions that might decrease waiting times for appointments in primary care. They restricted their search to publications in English or French and did the search in January 2015. They included 7 uncontrolled before-after studies, 3 surveys and one controlled before-after study.

What works: Open access scheduling, dedicated telephone calls for follow-up consultation, presence of nurse practitioners on staff, nurse and general practitioner triage and email consultations  reduced waiting times for primary care appointments.

What doesn’t work: Nothing noted.

What’s uncertain: The barriers of open access scheduling to some patient groups and how to mitigate these barriers are uncertain.

The cumulative effect of interventions to reduce waiting times for primary care appointments is uncertain.

The effects of the evaluated interventions on quality of care, care continuity and use of healthcare resources, and their cost-effectiveness are uncertain.


Disclaimer: This summary has been written by staff and volunteers of Evidence Aid in order to make the content of the original document accessible to decision makers who are searching for the available evidence on the coronavirus (COVID-19) but may not have the time, initially, to read the original report in full. This summary is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians, other health workers, professional associations, guideline developers, or national governments and international agencies. If readers of this summary think that the evidence that is presented within it is relevant to their decision-making they should refer to the content and details of the original article, and the advice and guidelines offered by other sources of expertise, before making decisions. Evidence Aid cannot be held responsible for any decisions made about the coronavirus (COVID-19) on the basis of this summary alone.