Speed of Care at Cancer Treatment Centers of America
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While you are at our hospitals, we want you and your loved ones to relax and focus on healing. We constantly seek ways to make your experience better, such as reducing time spent in waiting rooms and time spent waiting for test results. We continually work to improve how our hospitals function, which helps create an experience for you that is as convenient and stress-free as possible.
Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) was one of the first hospital systems to embrace Lean Thinking principles, a concept that helps us continually identify treatment and process improvements that benefit patients. Whether our improvement projects are large or small, they always help us deliver better care to you.
For example, we recently reduced the amount of time patients spend in the waiting area to receive chemotherapy infusions through port access procedures. Using Lean Thinking, we made small changes that made a big difference:
- We developed new scheduling guidelines to identify the times of day when activity in the hospitals is highest and we are the busiest.
- We reduced appointment waiting time by scheduling patients at 20-minute intervals instead of 15-minute intervals.
- We reduced wait time by asking the department secretary to print patient port access labels, which frees our lab technicians to do their jobs more efficiently.
These and other process improvements have dramatically reduced patient wait time for chemotherapy infusion from 40 minutes to an average of 10 minutes – a 75% improvement over previous wait times.
We have recently reduced wait times in our outpatient clinics to help ensure that your experience with us is as stress-free as possible. Now, patients seamlessly transition from one treatment step to the next without unnecessary wait time in between. Other improvements we’ve recently made include:
- New scheduling procedures allow nurses to draw and assess lab work before patients see their oncologist.
- New paging and printing systems improve communication between the front desk and lab technicians.
- We make sure that our oncologists arrive at patient appointments equipped with all the materials they need.
These efficiency improvements resulted in a 67% improvement in wait time for patients in the outpatient clinic, from an average of 32 minutes to 11 minutes – a savings of over 20 minutes per appointment.
We know that many patients find it stressful to have blood drawn, especially if unreliable results require blood to be drawn a second time. And while redraws are sometimes necessary for reasons beyond our control, we work hard to avoid the discomfort, anxiety, and delay that unnecessary redraws can cause patients. That’s why we employed Lean Thinking to identify and reduce situations that might lead to unnecessary redraws.
As part of a Lean Thinking project, our team identified and took several easy steps to minimize patient blood redraws, including:
- Nurse supervisors now provide a Questionable Specimens identification sheet to document and track incidents of questionable blood results.
- Nurses attend an additional education seminar at the CTCA annual Skills Fair and at New Staff Nursing Orientation in order to standardize the port blood draw process.
- Annual Nursing Competencies are now used to review nursing skills and continuously reinforce good practices.
With a few simple steps such as these, we have reduced the number of redraws by 45%, from 27 per month to only 15. Even better, by reducing the number of unnecessary redraws, the wait for necessary redraw results has dropped from an average of 1.8 hours to just one hour, an improvement of 45%.