The magic in math: How UCSF Health used tech to solve infusion scheduling challenges

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Building out a schedule for appointments at infusion centers is a coordinated effort that must consider various factors, from peak visit times to supply and capacity demands.

During an April 1 webinar hosted by Becker's Hospital Review and sponsored by LeanTaaS, industry experts discussed how applying math to infusion center operations can streamline scheduling efficiencies for both patients and clinicians.

The presenters were:

  • Aubrey Wong, administrative director at University of California San Francisco
  • Mohan Giridharadas, Founder and CEO of LeanTaaS

Five key takeaways:

1. There are two fundamental concepts that drive capacity in an infusion center: matching and linking.

"The first concept is matching the supply with the demand, minute for minute throughout the day all day every day," Mr. Giridharadas said. "The second concept is linking, where each individual element is its own service, which you must string together to deliver a very good end-to-end patient experience."

2. Infusion has a peak profile in terms of supply and demand, which can make scheduling appointments and staff challenging. Infusion Center Schedulers must find an optimal sequence of appointments that matches the volume and mix for each day of the week with the nursing availability,workload and chair availability within a tight (15-30 minute) window all day, every day, according to Mr. Giridharadas.

3. Use mathematics to solve optimization challenges, Mr. Giridharadas advises. By predicting the volume, mix and timing of the incoming demand and creating an optimized template that meets the demand pattern based on the real-world constraints of nurses, chairs and the pharmacy  the center can unlock capacity and accurately plan out appointment times and nurse schedules to match patient demand.

4. Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center of UC San Francisco rolled out LeanTaaS' technology in January 2016 to help alleviate issues with patient wait times. After going live on LeanTaaS, the health system's pilot infusion center location's wait times decreased 15 percent to 45 percent on weekdays, with an overall decrease in wait times of 26 percent.

5. From 2015 to 2016, UC San Francisco was able to absorb a 21 percent increase in overall average daily volume while decreasing the overall average daily peak by 8 percent, Ms. Wong said.

"This is something that we are really proud of," she said. "Before LeanTaaS, we were over capacity most of the day but after implementing the technology we were able to unlock capacity to help deal with unexpected delays and add-ons."

 

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