Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Despite WHO advocating for an integrated approach to antenatal care (ANC), testing coverage for conditions other than HIV remains low and women are referred to distant laboratories for testing. Using point-of-care tests (POCTs) at peripheral dispensaries could improve access to testing and timely treatment. However, the effect of providing additional services on nurse workload and client wait times are unknown. We use discrete-event simulation (DES) modelling to understand the effect of providing four point-of-care tests for ANC on nurse utilization and wait times for women seeking maternal and child health (MCH) services.
We collected detailed time-motion data over 20 days from one high volume dispensary in western Kenya during the 8-month implementation period (2014–2015) of the intervention. We constructed a simulation model using empirical arrival distributions, activity durations and client pathways of women seeking MCH services. We removed the intervention from the model to obtain wait times, length-of-stay and nurse utilization rates for the baseline scenario where only HIV testing was offered for ANC. Additionally, we modelled a scenario where nurse consultations were set to have minimum durations for sufficient delivery of all WHO-recommended services.
A total of 183 women visited the dispensary for MCH services and 14 of these women received point-of-care testing (POCT). The mean difference in total waiting time was 2 min (95%CI: < 1–4 min, p = 0.026) for MCH women when integrated POCT was given, and 9 min (95%CI: 4–14 min, p < 0.001) when integrated POCT with adequate ANC consult times was given compared to the baseline scenario. Mean length-of-stay increased by 2 min (95%CI: < 1–4 min, p = 0.015) with integrated POCT and by 16 min (95%CI: 10–21 min, p < 0.001) with integrated POCT and adequate consult times compared to the baseline scenario. The two nurses’ overall daily utilization in the scenario with sufficient minimum consult durations were 72 and 75%.
The intervention had a modest overall impact on wait times and length-of-stay for women seeking MCH services while ensuring pregnant women received essential diagnostic testing. Nurse utilization rates fluctuated among days: nurses experienced spikes in workload on some days but were under-utilized on the majority of days. Overall, our model suggests there was sufficient time to deliver all WHO’s required ANC activities and offer integrated testing for ANC first and re-visits with the current number of healthcare staff. Further investigations on improving healthcare worker, availability, performance and quality of care are needed. Delivering four point-of-care tests together for ANC at dispensary level would be a low burden strategy to improve ANC.