City of Hope’s Accelerating Care Excellence (ACE) program has built a successful track record of changing processes to quickly improve patients’ care experiences — but some systems are so complex they take more time to tackle. Efforts called “process preparation events” allow teams to redesign an existing process or plan a new system to better serve patients, staff and physicians.
Employee teams recently dedicated their time to two of these. One team focused on the best possible implementation of the institution’s call center, and a second team addressed supply management for endoscopic procedures.
|Process team leader Mickey McCabe (Photo by p.cunningham)|
City of Hope handles more than 1.2 million telephone calls annually from patients, family members, outside physicians and the public. Different departments have their own call center staff members who handle calls independently of each other. Patients may be transferred several times during one call to retrieve all of their appointment information or lab results or get answers to treatment questions.
“We observed that our process of managing phone calls and directing them to appropriate clinical, research or administrative staff could be difficult, confusing and fragmented,” said Mickey McCabe, business manager of the Department of Surgery and process team leader. “Our team worked to establish how we would structure and operate the optimum call center that would improve the experience for everyone.”
The team decided that high-quality service requires meeting these goals:
- Resolving as many patient questions as possible in one call
- Providing appropriate emotional support during calls
- Shortening wait time
- Reducing the number of call transfers
- Standardizing the process, and
- Tracking requests through to their resolution.
Team members recommended that City of Hope establish a system that integrates all call centers to work together cooperatively so patients could get all their questions answered with the fewest transfers or repetitive questions. An initial plan was established based on the event and the team will continue work on developing the best method to roll out the improved process.
Endoscopy supply management
In May, a process preparation team created plans for managing supplies at an ambulatory surgical center that will open within the Michael Amini Transfusion Medicine Center in 2011. The same team recently applied its findings to supply management for endoscopic procedures in City of Hope Helford Clinical Research Hospital.
“We wanted to help better organize the equipment room and improve the process to be more efficient and less wasteful of staff time,” said Louis Magdits, surgical business administrator in Helford Hospital and the team’s leader.
The team worked with physicians, nurses and other medical staff to understand supply needs for their endoscopic surgeries.
Together, they found space in the radiology area on the first floor for a endoscopic supply cart used exclusively for procedures that take place there, alleviating staff from transporting materials between floors.
Additionally, the team reorganized the equipment room and streamlined supply management. The improvements reduced the number of mobile endoscopic supply carts from seven to only two. Magdits said the team is eager to look for similar improvements in other parts of Helford Hospital.
The next two ACE events, scheduled for August, will examine the patient infusion area and Surgical Clinic 2B in Geri & Richard Brawerman Ambulatory Care Center.
For more information, employees may visit www.coh.org/ACE. Questions about ACE also may be addressed to Tricia Kassab, vice president of quality and patient safety, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Improvements stay on track
The ACE program has conducted 18 events since November 2009 to implement immediate changes in care or lay groundwork for more extensive improvements.
“City of Hope is proud of what ACE teams are doing to help improve the patient experience, and I want to thank every single staff member and patient who has contributed to this program,” said Virginia Opipare, executive vice president and chief operating officer. “ACE is having a profound effect on how we work.”Among the continuing improvements:
- An external company is improving the accuracy of a database of referring physicians and regularly updating it.
- Standardized communications and improved coordination between schedulers and physician assistants facilitates more efficient patient scheduling.
- Automatic printing of appointment rosters for all outpatient clinics results means staff can more efficiently manage patient work flow.