You are here

How the Medical Center’s Eye Center Put the Focus on Innovation

The situation: The Medical Center’s Eye Center team faced significant patient access challenges. Wait times averaged 74 minutes, which caused frustration for patients and the team alike. Something had to be done. The solution? The team worked together to find new ways – big and small – to turn things around.

DARLENE: When I started at the Eye Center, most of the doctors saw about eight patients per day, maybe 10. I came from a private practice where they saw up to 80 patients in a day. I knew we could improve that. So, we remade the work flows. Every doctor got a specific technician to work with. This gave the doctor a go-to if they needed somebody – instead of everybody working for every doctor, which just didn’t work. The mood of the office changed significantly – everybody feels like they are part of making changes at the Eye Center and everybody is listening to their ideas.

Some of the small things we’ve done saved the doctors, technicians and front desk lots of time. We organized the cabinets in the exam rooms so they all mirror one another. Now the doctors and technicians can open the cabinets and know exactly where something is. And you think oh, that’s silly, but you know, those few seconds add up to a lot of seconds saved by the end of the day!

DR. SCHAAL: When I started as the new chair at the UMass Memorial Eye Center, for the first six weeks we measured everything that was going on. Patients were waiting 74 minutes on average to be seen. We had a challenge in front of us – and I love challenges! I thought the best way to make a change was to ask the staff for their opinions. The atmosphere really changed and people discovered this opportunity to shine. That respect for everyone’s ideas and opinions really brought us together as a team. Our time to see patients improved from 74 minutes to less than five.

DR. LUNA: We had a challenge with our operating room turnover time of anywhere from 26 to 41 minutes. This limited the number of procedures we could perform each day. We formed an eye team and developed and executed a plan to lower the turnover time in the OR so we could improve the quality of care, improve patient safety and improve the volume in the operating room (OR).

So, every time we would do an eye surgery, the plan was to have the same eye team involved, which turned into better efficiency and flow in the OR. We also tried to anticipate problems in the preop suite with patients with complex cases. Identifying these patients before they even got to the hospital was very important. Overall, we decreased turnover time in between cases from an average of 26 to 41 minutes to 15 to 17 minutes – that immediately put the department at a different level compared to others nationwide.

LORI ANN: Dr. Luna sat down and showed me how complicated a case may be so I know how to schedule surgery correctly.

SHERRI: Before, it was frustrating, because we felt like we had ideas and just couldn’t figure out how to make it work. Since we’ve all gone through the LEAN training, the whole department found ways to work as a team to continue to develop and see patients more efficiently. We have these idea boards. You might start an idea and as a group you figure out how to make it work.

For example we have 18 exam rooms and they were all different, now it’s the same in every room. It’s just so much easier because you can work in any room and take care of the patient without wondering where things are. I feel our co-workers have a better team approach now and we work on improving things every day. And the patients are seen quickly so they’re a lot happier with the doctors and us. We hear a lot of positive comments.

TINA: With the new computer system, everything is right in one place now, I don’t have to go into multiple systems to get a patient checked in, get their medical records or any history that the doctor might need. Most patients wait five, 10 minutes in the waiting room before they get called in to see the doctor. I feel like I can better serve the patients because they are not sitting in the waiting room for so long. Everything is more streamlined for them.

Stay tuned for more features about teams who innovate in the weeks ahead. Know a team who deserves Everyone, Everyday recognition? Nominate them to be featured!