Using Data to Battle Inefficiencies in Oncology Care

By Kim Barnhardt, MHA, MBA, BS, RN, CPSO, Manager, Clinical Consulting and Education

1/25/2021

 

70% of surveyed cancer program leaders cite workflow inefficiencies as the top concern during a typical workday. Yet, how do they tackle this issue when care teams are already going the extra mile to provide exceptional care? 

A variety of factors contribute to care inefficiencies, even in the best oncology centers—poor communication, missing equipment, an imbalance between patient volumes and resources and more. Day-to-day operations can quickly get behind schedule without meaningful measurement and oversight.

Further, workflow inefficiencies have a clear financial impact on the greater organization. When high-value resources like exam rooms and infusion chairs are inefficiently utilized, cancer centers cannot effectively add capacity to see more patients.   

Efficiency gains are often cornerstone to improvement initiatives. So, when it comes to resource utilization, how do you accurately measure waste to reduce it? 

Measuring Process Gaps and Closing Them

The most effective means to revealing the root causes of process inefficiencies is real-time locating system (RTLS) technology. Often selected to help care teams improve patient flow in the moment with proactive prompts and alerts, RTLS also provides powerful retrospective data, an excellent way to understand operational performance.

RTLS-based data makes it easier to identify process gaps and support improvement programs that better utilize key resources. Metrics like patient wait times, room utilization, door-to-doctor times, overall visit length and equipment utilization enable cancer program leaders to:

  • Measure and manage continual process improvement efforts
  • Balance patient volumes with resources
  • Refine scheduling to maximize capacity
  • Verify quality improvement efforts with quantifiable metrics
  • Drive waste out of workflow processes
  • Engage staff with objective data

Driving Real Results with RTLS Data

Visibility to patient wait times and exam room utilization rates has allowed many cancer centers to adjust scheduling and rooming practices to accommodate more patients, without adding physical space or short-changing the patient’s time with the provider. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute saw a 10% increase in capacity while reducing patient wait times by nearly 5 minutes per patient. 

Using RTLS data to support process improvements is one way Lafayette Family Cancer Institute creates a better care environment for patients and staff. Hear Brenda Farnham share insights on their continuous improvement efforts during a special ACE webinar on March 3, 2021: “Data-driven Process Improvements that Improve Workflow Efficiency in Cancer Care.” Register here

If you are seeking to improve workflow efficiencies and reduce waste in your cancer center, see how leading cancer centers are using the Patient Flow Optimization for Oncology solution to make meaningful changes. You can also learn more about Midmark RTLS by downloading our eBook 7 Benefits for Cancer Care