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Webinar Writeup: How UCSF leveraged supply and demand considerations to reduce infusion patient wait times 

Kathy Bennett

Content writer for PAN Communications

Recently, Aubrey Wong, Administrative Director of the University of California, San Francisco, and the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, joined LeanTaaS Founder and CEO Mohan Giridharadas to share how the Center piloted iQueue for Infusion Centers and started to reduce infusion patient wait times and increase volumes.

Missed the event? We’ve got the details below, plus the full webinar recording.

Approaching capacity optimization for infusion centers

Capacity optimization methods have been deployed in many industries, from fleet management to staffing airport security to airline yield management. Airlines and package delivery companies must manage capacity and pull the levers of pricing and volume to fill their planes as best they can. Once a plane leaves empty, that revenue is lost forever.  Healthcare assets like operating rooms, inpatient beds, and infusion centers are managed with the same complexities and capacity challenges. The opportunity to do this correctly is enormous, up to millions of dollars of revenue per infusion center per year. 

To optimize infusion center capacity, supply must be accurately matched with demand, minute to minute, all day, every day. Additionally, there is the need to link valuable healthcare assets with one another. Each individual service must be strung together for a good end-to-end patient experience. Matching supply and demand patterns is a critical requirement for staff, equipment, and facilities. In the case of an infusion center, this includes the infusion pump, the nurse, the drugs, and the chairs.

Simply scheduling with a calendar doesn’t take into account supply-side constraints and demand-side considerations. “Grid-based scheduling” works for tennis courts and conference rooms, but not for random and unpredictable medical appointments. A “first come, first served” approach to scheduling is mathematically flawed, and does not account at all for matching supply and demand patterns for appointments.

LeanTaaS solutions replace EHR templates with new ones so that schedulers can use workflows they are already familiar with, but powered by analytics principals that help predict supply and demand patterns accurately. Giridharadas explained, “we replace EHR templates with more intelligent templates. It’s like we lifted up the car hood and ripped out the engine and replaced it with a Ferrari engine. It makes it easier for schedulers to use these new intelligent templates.”

University of California, San Francisco adopts an infusion capacity management solution

Aubrey Wong shared UCSF’s experience with implementing LeanTaaS’ iQueue for Infusion Centers. The team at the Mission Bay Campus was struggling with infusion scheduling. Patients waited too long, up to two or three hours to be seated for cancer services, impacting the facility’s Patient Satisfaction scores. Wong stated, “we went live with LeanTaaS in 2016 at this pilot location. Our utilization profile was such that we were running overcapacity from 10am through the end of the day. There was no logic for scheduling resulting in unhappy patients in our waiting areas.”

Their new approach to scheduling was acuity-based, rather  than time-based, meaning more acute patients were scheduled in the morning. 

The results of the pilot were impressive. By using iQueue, the UCSF team  flattened the utilization curve and decreased average wait time by 15-45% with an overall average 26% decrease. On Mondays, they reduced infusion patient wait times by 45%.   

UCSF decreased their time over capacity by 42%. They absorbed a 21% increase in overall average daily volume while decreasing average peak utilization by 20%. As Wong continued, “our utilization curve now shows we were level loading (insert webinar slide at 29:16) after implementation. We were able to unlock the capacity to help deal with unexpected delays and add ons. Our nursing team felt there was the ability to rest and plan out their days and take a lunch break. It was a huge satisfier for employees and patients.”

Culturally, Wong shared that the team needed to educate patients about the need to show up on time and set expectations with them. “We held patients accountable for arriving late and explained to them why. Our culture was such that we wanted to be accommodating. This involved some tough conversations with patients but it was necessary,” Wong added.

Wong said they continue to work on their templates to improve capacity, working closely with LeanTaaS. Volumes increased by 17% (pre-Covid), and wait times have remained flat, around 22 minutes. They’ve  experienced sustained impact across all of their infusion centers over several years. Volumes have grown consistently and wait times in their infusion centers have stayed flat with iQueue. Overall iQueue has given the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center an edge in winning the scheduling game. 

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