During LeanTaaS’ Summer 2022 Transform event, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) Administrative Director of Nursing, Cody C. Stansel (MSN, RN, NE-BC, OCN, CMSRN), presented on the strategy the center undertook to grow efficiency and reduce infusion patient wait times. The full session, which includes LeanTaaS Senior Product and Customer Success Manager for iQueue for Infusion Centers, Conor O’Dononghue, is available here.
Based in Nashville, VICC is one of 71 NCI designated cancer centers in the US, and the only adult center with that designation in the state of Tennessee. VICC consists of:
- 126 chairs
- 11 locations across middle Tennessee
- 20,000 outpatient visits per year
Challenges at VICC included schedule overloads and a lack of performance visibility
Before implementing iQueue for Infusion Centers, VICC experienced consistently high infusion patient wait times, up to two hours and often longer, especially at the midday peak between 10am-2pm each day. Nurses were often forced to miss lunch breaks and work excessive overtime, undergoing constant daily stress. VICC needed to expand capacity overall, as well as balance oncology and non-oncology capacity among its infusion facilities.
“With the number of patients already seeing long wait times, it wasn’t a safe situation to ask nurses to do more and add patients into a chaotic schedule.” -Cody Stansel
Another issue VICC faced was a lack of insight into infusion data. The existing EHR did not provide a strong reporting system, and valuable data around wait times and patient volumes had to be collected manually. This added a layer of work onto an already-strained system, and failed to provide an accurate and high-level view of VICC’s ongoing performance and ways to improve it.
The analytics tools in LeanTaaS’ iQueue for Infusion Centers solution, implemented at initial VICC sites in 2019, provided the ability to view key operational data, build scheduling templates that accounted for the needs of both nurses and patients, and grow volume by fully utilizing the capacity centers already had.
Ongoing support and solution building between iQueue and VICC
Beyond offering the tools that created optimized templates for infusion schedulers to work from, iQueue provided an ongoing view of the compliance to those templates and a means for leaders to track critical metrics such as patient wait times and volumes. iQueue revealed gaps, improvements, and opportunities in VICC’s infusion operations, as well as reasons and actions for these, for instance showing if there were consistently open appointments on a given day of the week that could be utilized to balance the schedule. Both clinical and administrative staff worked with the iQueue tools to discover how they could use them to address the challenges they faced, including ensuring patients who medically needed immediate appointments could obtain them and that schedulers could confidently balance last minute cancellations with same day add-ons. iQueue empowered staff to collaborate effectively and support each other’s priorities.
“We recognize there will always be a need for some overbooks…we’ve developed a process where [the] scheduler recognizes the [clinical] need for a patient’s overbook, reaches out to the charge nurse or infusion manager, then uses the iQueue app to look for [the] best place to put patients, where to add that overbook so it has [the] least impact on [the] day and help us ensure [the] schedule runs as smoothly as possible. This is a great use of iQueue to ensure our day-to-day operations run smoothly.” -Cody Stansel
Throughout the implementation and ongoing use of iQueue, the LeanTaaS team also worked alongside VICC to iterate new ways of optimizing the solution. One of the most prominent was the piloting of iQueue for Infusion Center’s Executive Summary module. This feature supported exactly the high-level view of key performance metrics that VICC leaders had needed. Leaders could track trends of individual or collective infusion centers against financial and operational benchmarks, or quickly pull the data they needed at a given moment.
“It was really a great experience. Our leadership team was able to meet with LeanTaaS and provide feedback as they developed that tool, and ultimately make it tailored to the leadership, so they could get the info they’re looking for quickly and easily…it’s nice for them to be able to get in and out of there quickly with the information they need.” -Cody Stansel
The results: VICC shows ability to throughput more infusion patients, faster
The impact of iQueue for Infusion Centers was immediately visible, particularly at the main center. Since implementation, results included:
- 30% decrease in in chair wait time
- 27% decrease in drug wait time, or the time between patient check-in and rooming
- 8% increase in patient volumes, using the same number of chairs as before
What made these results particularly noteworthy was that VICC had opened several other locations during this time. Resources had to be siphoned away from the main location to support these facilities, but patient volumes still increased by almost 10%. By embracing and leveraging the data-driven solution they knew they needed, VICC’s leaders, providers, and scheduling staff unlocked capacity they already had, but could not utilize before.
“It’s a very impressive amount of growth, and amount of volume we’ve added at this one infusion center, thanks to having the iQueue system in place.” -Cody Stansel
To view the entire presentation from Stansel, or see further success stories from infusion centers using iQueue, visit here.