A leading international medical center recognized the need for widespread process improvements, but wanted to take a progressive approach that would result in meaningful improvements to every patient experience. For the pilot program, we centered on the organization’s colonoscopy practice. A growing national awareness of the benefits to proactive cancer screening had driven referrals up, but outdated processes and a lack of interaction between facilities were costing the center in wait times, lost business and patient satisfaction. We worked with the hospital and area facilities to create a detailed map of the patient experience: from referral and scheduling, to procedure preparation (and the procedure itself), to discharge and reporting processes.
The purpose of mapping the entire experience was to see it from a patient perspective. This approach allows all involved to thoroughly understand and assess the current situation in order to design meaningful improvements. Some of the key challenges that the team pursued during the pilot:
- Appointments ranged drastically, from 9 to 142 days out.
- Patients were choosing alternate providers in the area because of the excessive wait.
- Patients could not be scheduled into another open location due to ”locked” schedules (If a patient called one location, that office could not schedule the patient at a different facility).
- There were seven different sets of patient instructions – among just five locations – on how to prepare for a colonoscopy.
- There was limited sharing of resources in the actual procedure area of the main hospital location: two hospital divisions maintained separate procedure rooms and staff, which was a hindrance to operational efficiency and patient satisfaction.
The clear, up-front understanding of the complete patient experience accelerated the results of the pilot program. In just two separate week-long collaborative sessions, all of the locations transformed the way they interacted with patients – and with each other. The results:
- One common scheduling process now provides the ability to schedule patients at any open location. First available appointments are now within 1-10 days versus up to 142 days previously.
- Pre-procedure patient instructions reduced from seven versions to two.
- Same-day cancellations reduced from 13 percent to 8 percent.
- The hospital realized $800K in incremental net revenue due to reduced cancellations, fewer lost referrals of patients to other facilities, and better use of schedulers, nurses, physician, and procedure room resources.
The pilot was a great success and is being expanded to include additional sites and other services across the health system.