Precious Time and Grateful Patients

 Infusion Center IHQSE Team Streamlines Patient Visits and Reduces Wait Time

Many patients receiving chemotherapy at the University of Colorado Cancer Center​ received nearly an hour of their time back, thanks to more efficient processes identified and implemented by a team participating in the Certificate Training Program (CTP) of the Institute of Healthcare Quality, Safety and Efficiency (IHQSE). The changes also increase the center’s capacity for new patients, which allows the center to meet patient demand and could add an estimated $750,000 in revenue.

The Infusion Center team was led by Tom Purcell, MD,  (Medical Director), Steve Tung (Finance) and Vicki Slat-Vasquez (Nursing). Through the CTP, the team gained a better understanding of the center’s workflow and identified two distinct patient populations—those receiving medications that required routine lab tests and those that did not. Despite the two populations, there was only one common patient pathway through the infusion center, and it involved waiting for lab work. The team realized that major improvements in care efficiency and patient satisfaction were possible if they eliminated the unnecessary wait for patients who didn’t need labs. (Pictured above, L-R: Tom Purcell, MD, Vicki Slat-Vasquez, Steve Tung.)

The team developed two tracks: a Regular Track for patients who require labs and an Express Track for patients who did not require labs. With the help of the CTP and its data analyst, the team removed wasted time identified for Express Track patients. The Infusion Center is trained to identify which track patients belonged in, and includes having the pharmacy premix medications prior to an Express Patient’s appointment.

While focusing on sustaining these early gains, the team is currently implementing a third patient track. It’s called Fast Track, it is for patients who don’t require labs but their chemotherapy medication is either too costly or too unstable to premix.

"We are constantly looking for ways to be more patient-centered with the operations of the Cancer Center. This project, which reduces patient wait time, is just one of many we hope to complete in the coming months to improve our operational efficiency of the infusion center,” said Dr. Purcell. “In addition, as the volume of our center grows, it is imperative to find ways to become more efficient in all areas of the center including our disease-specific clinics and lab.”   ​

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