Purple Time – Protecting Endangered Species

Tony Lembke

‘Protected time’ is invaluable for improvement work – but in a busy practice it is often hard to find. The Sorell Family Practice came up with a novel way to protect this endangered species.

As you know, if you keep doing what you’re doing you’re keep getting what you get. The most successful collaborative practices have allocated time for their clinicians and staff to think about the systems in their practice, and to work on improving these systems.

This work is rewarded with success in the triple aim – improving patient outcomes, making work easier and more satisfying, and improving the practice bottom line.

How can you give staff ‘purple time‘ to undertake this work without having them called away to deal with more pressing and immediate problems.

The Sorell Family Practice have produced this fantastic uniform to indicate that the staff member wearing it is doing important work and is not to be interrupted.

Here is their purple smock, as modelled by their practice nurse Ruth Sproule at the Wave Four learning workshop in Sydney today.


And, if the person interrupting you doesn’t get the message – you can turn your back to them to give it to them in a more direct Tasmanian way.

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Ruth says
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“When people see you behind closed doors, and they don’t know what you are doing, they wonder why you aren’t out helping them”

“The Purple Smock has been successful in letting people understand that you are doing important and valuable work”

The practice shares the results of this work via a special collaborative noticeboard, where the results of their improvements and suggestions and ideas are posted. I don’t know if the noticeboard is also purple.
Do you allocate ‘purple time’ in your practice? And how do you protect it?

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One Response to “Purple Time – Protecting Endangered Species”

  1. Michel Maalouf
    March 10th, 2010 | 12:08 pm

    Great idea, may I suggest a variation (The Victorian Way):
    At the front: Do Not Disturb
    At the back: Already Disturbed

    That will scare them off
    Well done
    Michel Maalouf, CPM, Westgate GP Network

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