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Expect the unexpected: how to conquer variability in your outpatient infusion center

  • Zack Oliver
    Zack Oliver

    Manager, Customer Success, iQueue for Infusion Centers

  • Melissa Pikulin
    Melissa Pikulin

    Solutions Executive, iQueue for Infusion Centers

The last several years have challenged infusion centers in ways never imagined or anticipated. But a constant theme remains since LeanTaaS began working with these centers nearly a decade ago: how can infusion centers better plan for the unexpected to reduce stress and uncertainty? 

Outpatient infusion centers are challenged with day-to-day uncertainty given the nature of their patient population; ongoing staffing challenges add another layer of uncertainty. This has caused many in the field to feel increasingly fatigued. 

Although it may not be possible to predict the next patient reaction or the next nurse who needs to take an extended leave, some causes of variability within infusion centers are not entirely random. Each time there is a disruption, a call for an add-on, several cancellations, treatments running long, or patients arriving late, the team must stop their usual work and put thought and energy into making more and more decisions. One tool to counteract what can feel like ongoing chaos is a foundational Lean concept called Variability Reduction.

Variability reduction is the process of identifying and minimizing the sources of variation in a system or process. In Lean processes, reducing variability is important because it leads to greater efficiency and consistency in operations. When there is less variability in a process, it becomes easier to control the outcome of the process, which can help reduce waste and delays.

With the support of predictive analytics and ongoing monitoring, infusion centers can quantify predictable variability so they can better manage it – by accounting for it directly in the scheduling plan and then developing an action plan to reduce the underlying sources.

If infusion centers can decrease the amount of variability under their control between what is scheduled and how the day actually plays out, they will be better positioned to handle the unpredictable events that happen inevitably in the course of infusion care.

To learn more about variability reduction and how it can improve your infusion center operations, download our new eBook.

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