How Kelsey-Seybold Cancer Center grew patient volume by 33% while planning for major site expansion

Managing an infusion center is fraught with scheduling challenges. These challenges can lead to ongoing frustration for patients and staff while limiting the organization's operating capacity.

In a February webinar hosted by Becker's Hospital Review and sponsored by LeanTaaS, Hilary Chandler, MSN, RN, nurse manager of cancer services at Kelsey-Seybold Cancer Center in Houston, discussed her organization's particular scheduling and capacity management challenges. She then described the insights gleaned from implementing LeanTaaS’ solution iQueue for Infusion Centers to address those challenges and the results that Kelsey-Seybold has achieved.

Four key takeaways were:

1. Kelsey-Seybold faced multiple challenges in managing its infusion centers. Kelsey-Seybold is a multi-specialty group practice with over 650 providers located across 32 sites in the Houston area. Kelsey-Seybold has two infusion centers that had more than 27,000 infusion patient visits in 2022.

Ms. Chandler summarized some of the scheduling-related challenges the organization's infusion centers faced in 2020 and 2021. These challenges included difficulty increasing the number of infusion appointments without increasing the number of nurses or infusion chairs; difficulty accommodating add-ons due to limited capacity; nurse leadership spending hours each day preparing the next day's schedule, only to have to rework it; and a need for better balance of appointments throughout the day.

"We began experiencing more and more challenges with patient scheduling, and just obtaining the data we needed to make good decisions," Ms. Chandler said. "We needed a better balance of our patient appointments across the day. Our nurses were missing lunches and getting stuck working late because of peaks in the morning and afternoon. We needed to level load."

2. iQueue provided Kelsey-Seybold with critical data, leading to important operational changes. Based on insights from data provided by iQueue, Kelsey-Seybold made the following changes:

  • Expanded business hours: from 8:00 am–5:00 pm to 7:00 am–6:00 pm, adding two hours per day and about 100 per month, representing a 22 percent increase.
  • Adjusted shift assignments: from five shifts per week of eight hours each to four shifts per week of 10 hours each. This change was popular among staff and contributed to better staff satisfaction ratings.

"We [made these changes] based on the data from iQueue and our experiences in the department," Ms. Chandler said.

3. The changes at Kelsey-Seybold, driven by data from iQueue, resulted in a host of operational improvements. These improvements include:

  • Increased utilization: The overall utilization rate increased to 85 percent.
  • Increased patient volume: Patient volume has increased by 33 percent.
  • Increased chair utilization: Median chair utilization increased by 31 percent, particularly improving in the morning and evening hours.
  • Reduced drug wait times: Drug wait times improved by 6 percent.

4. As a result of successfully implementing iQueue, Kelsey-Seybold has learned several important lessons. Among the lessons: level-loading the utilization of chair resources is a fundamental way to absorb growth without needing costly operational changes or additions to staff or chair resources. Providing both forward-looking tools and retrospective metrics for scheduling staff and RNs is also essential to data-driven decision-making. In addition, maintaining proper visits and infusion services on separate days can significantly improve infusion operations.

Lastly, Kelsey-Seybold learned that iQueue for Infusion Centers is a valuable tool. While iQueue helped Kelsey-Seybold make improvements to day-to-day operations, LeanTaaS served as a partner in helping Kelsey-Seybold identify when and how these operational improvements would have the most impact.

Kelsey-Seybold's experience shows the power of the data and analytics from iQueue to make data-driven decisions that can dramatically improve an infusion center's scheduling, operations, capacity and results.

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