Clinical genetics provider real-time workflow study

Elizabeth McPherson, Christina Zaleski, Katrina Benishek, Catherine A. McCarty, Philip F. Giampietro, Kara Reynolds, Kristen Rasmussen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Purpose: Our work is the first documentation, in real time, of workflow in a general genetics department including data on patient care, research, and other activities for both clinical geneticists and genetic counselors. Methods: All physician geneticists and genetic counselors in the medical genetics department used an electronic tool to record their activities in 15 minute increments during clinic hours, evenings, and weekends over a 10-week period. Results: The average work week was 54.1 hours for physicians and 43.5 hours for genetic counselors. During clinic hours physicians spent about one-fourth of their time on direct patient care, one-fourth on other patient-related activities, one-fourth on research unrelated to individual patient care, and the remaining fourth on all other activities. However, after hours and on weekends they spent most of their time on research. Genetic counselors spent half of their time on patient-related activities, one-fourth on direct patient care, and the remainder on all other activities. The total professional time averaged 7 hours per new patient and 3.5 hours per follow-up with nearly 60% of this time devoted to patient-related activities. Conclusions: The labor intensive nature of clinical genetics, the large amount of time devoted to patient-related activities, and continuing limitations on billing by genetic counselors all contribute to the financial challenges faced by genetics departments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)699-706
Number of pages8
JournalGenetics in Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • Clinical genetics services
  • Genetic counseling
  • Reimbursement
  • Time study
  • Workflow
  • Workforce


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