Exceeding Patient and Physician Expectations

Overview

Few challenges in life are more terrifying than cancer diagnoses. When time is of the essence, diagnostic imaging tests need to be completed quickly and efficiently. For a nationally recognized cancer treatment center, the demand for its CT scanners and MRI systems was well over half-million procedures per year, overtaxing staff ability to quickly respond to physician referrals. Rather than continue to erode patient and physician satisfaction with its services, the hospital initially planned to purchase $4.5 million in new equipment; however, the Alacer team identified that process inefficiencies, not equipment capacity, were the real problem. Alacer recommended changing the fundamental way the hospital conducted its business and how it measured success.

Challenges

The Alacer team observed that the hospital’s radiologists were poorly utilized, resulting in the late delivery of diagnoses. By working closely with physicians, clinicians and administrators, new standards were developed that quickly identified operating gaps within the diagnostic imaging and collateral processes. Alacer recommended a new paradigm: instead of a single end-to-end process of patient through diagnostic imaging and delivery, two cycles were initiated. The patient cycle now extended from induction through imaging, and the referring physician cycle began with patient imaging through interpretation and delivery. New dashboards for both cycles were created, linking performance to business metrics.

Results

Bottlenecks are not necessarily caused by equipment capacity. Alacer proved that, by changing the fundamental way the hospital conducted its diagnostic imaging processes, it could increase revenue by 51%. It experienced a 31% increase in throughput across its MRI and CT systems, and radiologist utilization improved by 17%. As a result, satisfaction ratings by patients and referring physicians jumped 28% and 23%, respectively.