Quick Note: Previsit screening checklist improves teamwork and access

Doctor uses previsit screening checklistI am sure many colleague primary care providers are familiar with the soaring feeling of frustration when at the end of a visit, hand on the doorknob and ready to move on to the next patient, you are unexpectedly halted by your patient’s one last question. Often the one last question — aka the “doorknob” question — is in fact so important to your patient’s health and one you wish you’d been asked earlier in the encounter.

Many of us have adopted a daily team huddle into our practice, scanning through patient charts ahead of the visit in an effort to anticipate patients’ needs and delegating tasks to our team in planning for a smooth encounter. Yet I have found myself surprised that no matter how thoroughly I huddle with my team, it is often still not enough to meet my patients’ agenda of the day.

Unless, that is, I can screen for their needs prior to the encounter and count on the team to coordinate their requests.

This is exactly what inspired me a few years ago to create a previsit screening checklist tailored around my patient population’s most frequent health needs, to prompt structured team communication and actions and to improve delivery of care during a visit. We conducted an interventional quality improvement initiative and published the results in Clinical Pediatrics.

Read more about the checklist and review results of the study.

Pediatrician Dr. Sophie Allende created a pre-visit screening checklist


Sophie Allende-Richter, MD is a primary care pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital, an instructor in pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and a physician consultant at Groton School. Most of her work focuses on improving health care delivery for undeserved adolescents and young adults.