Rapid streamlining of infusion services: How the University of Kansas Cancer Center implemented technology and saw swift results

Keeping up with rising and uncertain patient demand while operating efficiently in an infusion setting is a tall order.

The University of Kansas Cancer Center — a comprehensive cancer center providing infusion services to 13,000 patients annually across six locations — accomplished this through a combination of Lean management and new technology.

During a Becker's Hospital Review webinar sponsored by LeanTaaS, Adam Neiberger, quality and performance improvement manager, oncology service line, University of Kansas Cancer Center, shared how this organization deployed technology to flatten mid-day peaks in infusion services and reduce patient wait times. 

Four key takeaways were: 

  1. Lean methodologies led the University of Kansas Cancer Center to LeanTaaS' solution for infusion centers. Since October 2015, the University of Kansas Cancer Center has been on a Lean journey. To focus improvement efforts needed in infusion services, the organization applied Lean value stream mapping.

    This work led the team to test and adopt LeanTaaS iQueue for Infusion Centers software across all infusion service locations. "One key principle in Lean is getting out on the floor and observing the work," Mr. Neiberger said. "Throughout the implementation and rollout of iQueue for Infusion Centers, we sat with schedulers, nurses and patients to observe the challenges they were facing."

  1. "Visibility walls" connect infusion center objectives with process improvements. The Tier 3 visibility wall is used by managers and home teams. It ties frontline actionable process measures to specific outcomes. The Tier 3 visibility wall includes a command center, managing daily improvement (MDI), local improvement and standard work. "For our infusion command center, iQueue metrics, data and tools often provide information related to volumes, staffing and action items," Mr. Neiberger said.

    During the iQueue go-live, the organization used the standard work section of the Tier 3 visibility wall to demonstrate new infusion center scheduling practices, as well as trade up and trade down workflows and talking points for schedulers and nursing staff. 

  1. The visibility of daily metrics at Tier 3 led to faster implementation of iQueue for Infusion Centers across the organization. The University of Kansas Cancer Center defined full implementation of iQueue for Infusion Centers as achieving 80 to 85 percent template compliance at all sites.

    After deploying iQueue at the pilot site, the organization implemented the software between 60 and 78 percent faster from the first workgroup to iQueue template go-live. "More importantly, we had a much quicker achievement of greater than 80 percent template compliance at each of our sites," Mr. Neiberger said. "It was between 53 and 85 percent faster from the first workgroup to 80 percent template compliance."

  1. University of Kansas Cancer Center's next goals are treatment level loading across all sites and improved staff satisfaction. The organization hopes to move patients from busier infusion centers to slower ones, especially if those locations are closer and more convenient for patients. The team also has an eye on employee well-being. "Our highest priority is staff satisfaction and flexibility," Mr. Neiberger said. "We will continue to leverage the tools at our fingertips to ensure we are level loaded across the day and our nursing acuity is similarly level loaded."

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