UH Seidman Retreat Takes Deep Dive into Patient Flow, Access

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By Ted Teknos, MD, President and Scientific Director, UH Seidman Cancer Center

UH Seidman Update | December 2021

Removing barriers to the optimal patient experience was the focus of a November retreat facilitated by IBM Simpler for UH Seidman Cancer Center caregivers. We mapped out the patient experience from the initial phone call to schedule appointments to the first clinic visit and on to treatment. A group of 80 of us, including patients, secretaries, physicians, nurses and other caregivers, helped us to examine this process for pain points/rocks and opportunities for improvement or ways to delight our patients and caregivers.

In advance, Shannon Allen of IBM Simpler met for several hours with the Seidman leadership team of Jorge Garcia, Dan Spratt, Jordan Winter, Brett Glotzbecker, Afshin Dowlati, Quintin Pan, Melissa Hunt, Melissa Childress, John Shanahan, Matt Kemmann and myself. We summarized and prioritized the next steps in our care model transformation exercise.

Four themes emerged from our initial meeting:

  1. We must commit to execute strategy and implement change with “Ruthless Consistency,” moving change to the front lines and supporting the teams in removing the rocks to reduce overburden.
  2. Change must be managed through a scientific process and measured for success. We need to implement an operating model for this change to stick.
  3. We must “go slow” to “go fast,” meaning that we need to study our processes in much more detail, identify root causes, then move rapidly to address change in a healthy and organized fashion.
  4. Our teams need help to learn and reinforce methods for doing this work. We need coaches to lead us through this change

We also acknowledge that our teams are overburdened, overcommitted and skeptical that we will be able to affect meaningful change through this process. To that end, we will be engaging IBM Simpler to coach us and teach us a methodology/operating system to plan for and implement lasting change. Over the next few months, we will be delving into three high-impact areas to diagnose the root causes of our challenges and design a better standard workflow. We will be engaging directly with our frontline teams as we work through these processes to find the appropriate solutions.

High-Impact Areas of Initial Focus:

  • Clinic flow – identifying pain points to optimize patient flow
  • Call tree – to ensure patients’ questions get answered
  • Infusion- Clinic flow on the day of service, including outbound scheduling (Currently only 30 percent of follow-up appointments made before patient leaves.)

While we will begin with these three high-impact areas of focus, we will strive to create standard, “rock/pain free” work in all the areas of our enterprise through an organized and relentless march to continuous improvement. We are very excited to engage with you on this journey. I am truly thankful for each and every member of this team for trusting in our leadership and showing unwavering commitment to our mission, which inspires us.

As our IBM Simpler coach Shannon emphasized: “The weekend workshops were truly refreshing – the empathy and commitment of the team is palpable.” It was great to hear from an unbiased observer how committed our team is to each other and to our patient’s well-being. We also recognize that this Saturday is only the start to our work. We cannot waiver from our commitment to supporting real, palpable change for our patients and our caregivers. In reviewing the sea of pink post-it notes, it shows all of us how much “pain” and how many “rocks” we deal with on a daily basis.

Let’s get it started!

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