Cancer patients have enough to fit into their day without worrying about their medical appointments going too long or getting delayed. Knowing that, City of Hope staff aim to save patients’ valuable time — and that of physicians, nurses and other clinical employees — by making clinics more efficient.
Two teams of City of Hope employees recently came together to improve work flow in two clinics in the Geri & Richard Brawerman Ambulatory Care Center as part of City of Hope’s Accelerating Care Excellence (ACE) program. During the rapid improvement events held Aug. 30 to Sept. 3, one team examined procedure rooms in the 2B surgical clinic and the other focused on expediting blood test turnaround times for patients in the 3C infusion clinic.
2B surgical clinic
|Jodie Reitan, left, John Palmer and Boris Rashkovsky act out a skit related to blood draw processes for infusion patients. (Photo by p.cunningham)|
When patients undergo outpatient procedures, such as biopsies, in the 2B surgical clinic, physicians or nurses sometimes leave procedure rooms two or three times to collect supplies or equipment they need. That can cause delays.
Team members used the event to envision an ideal outpatient procedure system for both patients and staff.
“We took this opportunity to examine and create a model for how we could work most efficiently, while also providing a better patient experience,” said Houri Yeghiayan, the ACE program facilitator who led the 2B clinic team.
The team implemented several improvements as a result:
- Created procedure kits filled with all necessary supplies and equipment for the most common procedures performed
- Removed unnecessary equipment and materials from procedure rooms
- Created a more patient-friendly environment to ease patients’ potential anxiety about procedures
- Standardized forms and work flow to increase efficiency
Team members identified other areas they would like to examine in the future, as well.
Blood test turnaround time
Most patients scheduled for infusion appointments need to get important blood tests done earlier the same day, and infusion treatment decisions depend on those results. City of Hope plans to open a new “rapid response lab” in the Main Medical Building by the end of September to process blood analysis quickly for these patients.
Previously, lab staff had no way of knowing which patients were waiting on blood test results for their infusions. The rapid improvement event team developed a simple method to flag patients needing swift results so the lab can prioritize these analyses.
|Louis Magdits, left, and Amin Rabiei participate in a skit about creating a model system in the 2B surgical clinic. (Photo by p.cunningham)|
“We wanted to ensure that patients’ blood work is being completed in a timely manner within our existing lab resources,” said Regina Buchanan, R.N., M.S.N./E.D., clinical nurse director for the intensive care unit, pediatric and cardiology, who led the team examining blood labs.
“We also looked at how to best focus work flow in the new rapid response lab when it opens.”
The team identified work flow improvements in City of Hope Helford Clinical Research Hospital’s blood labs that reduced the wait time for results by about 10 minutes, she noted.
The next ACE events are scheduled from Sept. 27 through Oct. 1.
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 email@example.com.
Initiative means improvement
Some City of Hope employees have launched successful, rapid improvements on their own initiative.
Earlier this year, an Accelerating Care Excellence improvement event established a process to gather medical records for new, incoming surgical patients. As a result, City of Hope collects all necessary medical records on behalf of surgical patients before their appointments — a very popular change.
Spurred by the success with surgical patient records, Terry Closson, director of patient access, and Rosamaria Gonzales-Cobery, clerical manager, both in the Department of New Patient Services, decided to roll out the service to all patients.
New Patient Services staff have sustained their original improvements and spread their success to other areas of service. “They understand that these processes matter to patient care,” said Tricia Kassab, vice president of quality and patient safety.
“Employee initiative can make a difference in patients’ experiences,” she added.