Time and Motion Study

Also Known As: 
Process Observation Worksheet
Time Study
Examples: 

Hollingworth W, Devine E, Hansen R, et al. The impact of e-prescribing on prescriber and staff time in ambulatory care clinics: a time-motion study. J Am Med Inform Assoc 2007;14(6):722-30.

Description: 

A time and motion study is an observation method used to determine the timing and duration of tasks or procedures.

Uses: 

To collect time and duration data for each step in a process.

How do I use this tool?: 

1. Determine the level of specificity that you want to measure. Will your analysis be on a highlevel, will it involve great detail, or will it be somewhere in the middle? Then determine your sampling method and assign someone to record the data. An example would be measuring the cycle time for patients scheduled at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. once a week for each physician in a clinic.

Expertise Required: 
This tool is easy to use and requires little or no training.
Recommended Supplies/Materials: 
Stopwatch
Data collection tool
Advantages: 

Adds to reliability of anecdotal, incomplete, or unverified data.

Disadvantages: 

Easy to focus on overly "micro" aspects of a task.

Can be time consuming.

Where can I go to learn more?: 

Woodward H, Suskovich D, Workman-Germann J, et al. Adaptation of lean methodologies for healthcare applications. 2007 Society for Health Systems Conference; 2007; New Orleans, LA; 2007.

Backer LA. Strategies for better patient flow and cycle time. Fam Pract Manag 2002;9(6):45-50.

Last Modified: May 2013