Introduction Inefficient clinic-level delivery of HIV services is a barrier to linkage and engagement in care. We used value stream mapping to quantify time spent on each component of a clinic visit while receiving care following a hospital admission in South Africa. Methods We described time for each clinic service (“process time”) and time spent waiting for that service (“lead time”). We also determined time and patient costs associated with travel to the clinic and expenditures during the clinic visits for 15 clinic visits in South Africa. Participants were selected consecutively based on timing of scheduled clinic visit from a cohort of HIV-positive patients recently discharged from inpatient hospital care. During the mapping we asked the participants to assess challenges faced at the clinic visit. We subsequently conducted in depth interviews and included themes from the care experience in this analysis. Results The 15 clinic visits occurred at five clinics; four primary care and one hospital-based specialty clinic. Nine (64%) of the participants were women, the median age was 44 years (IQR: 32–49), three of the participants had one or more clinic visit in the prior 14 days, all but one participant was on antiretroviral therapy (ART) at the time of the clinic visit (ART was stopped following the hospital visit for that participant). The median time since hospital discharge was 131 days (interquartile range; IQR: 121–183) for the observed visits. The median travel time to and from the clinic to a place of residence was 60 minutes. The median time spent at the clinic was 3.5 hours (IQR: 2.5–5.3) of which 2.9 hours was lead time and 25 minutes was process time (registration, vital signs, clinician assessment, laboratory, and check-out). The median patient cost for transport and food while at the clinic was ZAR43/ USD2.8 (median monthly household income in the district was ZAR2450/USD157). Participants highlighted long queues, repeat clinic visits, and multiple queues during the visit (median of 5 queues) as challenges. Conclusions Accessing HIV care in South Africa is time consuming, complicated by multiple queues and frequent visits. A more patient-centered approach to care may decrease the burden of receiving care and improve outcomes.
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