1 West Infusion Suite Vision Becomes Reality
We've had the opportunity to create a consumer-centered model of cancer care that addresses the needs of the patient while improving efficiency from innovation.Frederick Lansigan, MD
On December 12th, a small new infusion suite opened on Norris Cotton Cancer Center’s inpatient unit known as 1 West. In response to patient feedback, the suite was designed with three chairs to allow patients to receive the more streamlined treatment schedule with less wait time and relocation effort that they requested.
“The concept was really borne out of patient experience and feedback” explains Brendan Hickey, RN, Unit Nurse Manager on 1 West. “With the previous model, we would have patients with morning appointments come and have their labs drawn, see their doctor, and then have to wait in a waiting room for one or two, sometimes as many as eight hours before a bed would open up in 1 West so they could begin receiving their infusion. Patients were frustrated because their appointments were scheduled, we knew they were coming, but due to capacity constraints, we weren’t always able to take them right away. This was not the model of customer service that we wanted to provide.”
Affectionately known as “InnoFusion suite,” the new space allows patients to begin treatment during their wait period before they’re transitioned to the bed they’ll be settling into for the night or for the remainder of their stay—all directly on 1 West without the hassle of relocating from the outpatient center. Another benefit is that if a patient’s chemotherapy begins before 11:00 a.m., use of the 1 West infusion suite can reduce their hospital stay by a full day—great news for the patient and also an improvement in operational efficiency. In addition, the suite will provide a place for outpatients to come when weekend follow-up treatments are required, cancer-related or not. Currently, three beds need to be closed off in order to accommodate weekend outpatients. The new infusion suite allows these beds to remain open for inpatients who need them.
What started as a Dartmouth-Hitchcock Innovation partner project several years ago progressed to a four-month trial earlier this year to prove that the concept worked. “This one rapid test of change has proven that we can get patients started on chemotherapy much faster and use fewer resources” explains Frederick Lansigan, MD, Inpatient Medical Director of Cancer Services. “We save time on the front end where patients used to get outpatient chemotherapy and now we’ve streamlined our process so that they start all their chemotherapy in the hospital. By saving hours on the front end, we can reduce chemotherapy admissions by one whole day.”
A patient panel was assembled in order to gather feedback on the trial. The response was quite positive. Building on this response, several people, including project management support for building, systems analyst Katherine Thorley, and clinical nurse Lawrence Bornt were put in place to develop a scheduling process, establish relationships with patients, design the patient flow, streamline computer operations and carry out a host of other tasks needed in order to bring the concept to fruition. The ribbon-cutting ceremony held on December 12th marks the success of this achievement and the point at which the vision became reality.
“We’ve had the opportunity to create a consumer-centered model of cancer care that addresses the needs of the patient while improving efficiency from innovation” Lansigan explains. “Patients are now not waiting for beds on the inpatient unit because we created a multi-purpose room for incoming admissions and outgoing discharges, thus giving some flexibility to turn rooms over faster. We’ve focused more on hospitality and less on hospital red tape.” Adds Hickey: “We’re able to schedule the pharmacy better, we know the patient is coming, we now have better capacity to avoid long wait times, and beds can open earlier than they could previously. Patient experience is always first and foremost, but this project also provides the organizational benefits of increasing capacity and streamlining throughput.”
This new model is just the beginning. While it meets current business needs, it also provides a foundation on which build, both in space for additional chairs and what services can be provided, all to deliver better outcomes to all of our patients.
To learn more about the vision and creation process for NCCC’s InnoFusion suite, please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnDK6dAnHcI&feature=youtu.be.