Optimizing Outpatient Cancer Infusion Center Access Operations Using a Systems-Based Approach

Ortega, Justin, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Earle, Joshua, Department of Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Valdez, Rupa, MD-PBHS Public Health Sciences Admin, University of Virginia

As demand for cancer care has increased in the US, outpatient infusion centers have been constructed to meet this rising demand. Operational inefficiencies at these centers translate into long wait times for patients, low throughput, inability to meet patient demand, and lower overall patient satisfaction. The objective of this study was to analyze the current patient flow, identify inefficiencies, and propose methods to eliminate these inefficiencies. We surveyed prior literature regarding patient processing in healthcare systems. Two observational periods were completed within a comprehensive cancer center located in the mid-Atlantic. Each period lasted approximately three hours and involved discussions with an infusion nurse, an infusion nurse scheduler, and an infusion manager. Through these approaches, we sought to gain an understanding of patient flow, clinic processes, and pain points. Additionally, data from this comprehensive cancer center’s electronic health record (EHR) from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023, was analyzed to understand capacity and utilization. Observation and interview data were analyzed using qualitative content analysis procedures, while EHR data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Future focus for solution exploration can hone in on the factors that influence and impact patient no-shows, as well as strategies to reduce no-show occurrences.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
patient access, cancer care, systems-based approach
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