Patient experience has taken centre stage today for organizations in the healthcare sector, leading them to explore new age digital technologies such as AI, ML, IoT, etc. Even as the potential of these technologies is being explored, sometimes one can still come across examples of significant impact on patient experience through simple change in processes assisted by ingenious use of technology. One such example is currently operational in Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute & Research Centre.
Through technology led transformation of processes in Daycare, the hospital has been able to improve turnaround times by 25-30% in the department, leading to improved patient satisfaction and reduced employee fatigue.
According to J.P. Dwivedi, CIO, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute & Research Centre, more than 50% of the patients visiting a cancer hospital need daycare admission for administration of chemotherapy, bone marrow aspiration, blood transfusion etc. Needless to say, it is one of the busiest departments in the hospital. On an average there are around 70-80 patients visiting the hospital’s daycare in a single day.
Patients and their attendants used to run from pillar to post to complete the billing formalities, arranging medicines/blood and completing admission/discharge formalities, leading to heavy crowd and long queues at the receptions of these stations. On top of that, the delivery of medicines for chemotherapy or of the blood for blood transfusion in daycare used to take time as admission was confirmed on bed availability and medicines/blood could not be ordered without admission. This meant the patient had to wait for another hour to hour and half for medicines/blood even after getting the bed, thus increasing patient anxieties.
“When the cancer patients and their attendants visit the hospital they are already in a harrowing state and the long queues and wait period further add to it. Our aim was to reduce the turnaround time to address the issues of long queues and waiting time to at least bring down the anxiety levels and unease for the patients/attendants owing to the administrative and procedural processes,” says Dwivedi.
The hospital decided to restructure its various process components and deploy technology to eliminate the problems and streamline the entire daycare operations.
Dwivedi and his team created the concept of admission on a virtual bed. This means that once the patient has seen the doctor in the OPD and registers at the daycare reception, he/she is allocated a virtual bed in the software system to enable kick-starting the process of placing the order for the chemo medicines and blood for transfusion. This system is integrated with the Daycare Management System as well as the Hospital Information System (HIS), thus allowing the order for medicines and blood to be immediately generated in the pharmacy system and the online blood bank management system respectively. This enables the medicines or the blood to arrive at the bed before the patient is admitted on a real bed. Once the physical bed is allocated to the patient, the daycare admission of the patient is changed from notional to real admission within the system and the medicines or blood is administered.
This resulted in not only shortening the waiting time for the patient but also helped in reducing the patient movement between the different departments as the order for the medicines and blood is managed by the online system.
According to Dwivedi, with a combination of restructuring processes and deploying technology, the hospital has been able improve throughput of the daycare beds by more than 25% and reduced turnaround time by 25-30%.
Faster turnaround time has had a significant bearing on improving the patient experience who now save at least 1-2 hours, which was earlier spent in waiting for the medicines/blood. Meanwhile, improved beds throughput means that the hospital is now able to serve more patients in its daycare in a day as compared to earlier, which in turn has helped in patient retention.