When We're United, Patients Win

September 2015

​How a New Space is Improving Outcomes at UCH Eye Center at the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Institute

The University of Colorado Hospital Eye Center at Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Institute tripled its ability to reach patients thanks to new space that enhanced the ability of their care teams to sit together, stand together and work together. Patient volume isn’t the only benefit. Since opening five months ago, the team has improved on-time starts and room turnover times and significantly reduced surgery cancellations. And, patient, provider and staff satisfaction is at an all-time high. How did they do it? It was a team effort. (Drs. Richard Davidson and Janis Ferrell pictured at left)

What’s Changed?

The original three-story space was built in 2001 and wasn’t designed for efficiency. Now, the center boasts more than 130,000 square feet of functional space, which includes:

• Clinical and administrative space

• A 120-seat auditorium that allows for real-time surgical viewing for students

• Dedicated research space

• An optical shop

• A surgical wet lab for fellows, residents and students to practice surgery

Medical Director Rich Davidson​, MD, believes the biggest advantage is that this space was designed for function. “We’re now able to share a lot of resources,” he said. “For example, we have no need to duplicate machines now that all of our diagnostic equipment is all on the first floor.”

The new space also allows for efficiency. It used to take 30 minutes to complete a cataract surgery. They’ve cut this time down to eight minutes because the operating rooms are designed for quick turnaround. “I used to do 20 surgeries per day using two rooms,” he said. “Now I can do 20 in one room—and we’re able to have more providers operating at the same time.”

All spaces were designed to free up staff time and improve morale.

“It’s a much nicer space for everyone,” he said, explaining how their call center staff used to be housed in what he describes as a “closet.”

“They now sit in a beautiful room with huge windows.”

Improved Relationships and Outcomes in Surgery

As vice chair of quality for the Department of Anesthesia, Janis Ferrell​, MD, was responsible for putting together a team that is experienced in managing a range of patients, including those with complicated medical issues. The team of anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists focus solely on eye surgeries, which has allowed deeper connections with surgical staff.

“It’s been great developing relationships with the eye surgeons. We have the skills they want, and they have confidence in our judgment,” she said.

One of the biggest changes is the extensive pre-assessments the team conducts prior to the day of surgery. “We’ve developed a model that’s different from typical ORs. We take a comprehensive look at the whole patient to identify conditions that might prevent us from administering anesthesia the day of surgery,” explains Dr. Ferrell. “We’ve only overlooked two or three patient issues in five months, so it’s working. Plus it gives us a chance to get to know our patients before they come in for their operation, which is something we’ve seen patients really respond to.”

It’s a process her team invested in early on. “The team loves the fact we’re fully prepared the day before.” she said.

Both Dr. Davidson and Dr. Ferrell believe shifts in their organizational culture as a whole have been great for everyone involved.

“Of course we’re not a perfect team, and we have imperfect days. But the culture is such that every individual has the capability to step back, take a deep breath and regroup,” said Dr. Ferrell.

They credit the team’s leadership for demonstrating this culture of learning and for being involved in the entire process.

“We know there’s always room for improvement,” said Dr. Davidson. “But we love what we have and we’re very proud of what we’ve already accomplished in such a short time.”​


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