Patients at Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital’s infusion center no longer have to spend several hours in the waiting room anticipating treatment. With a new streamlined process in place, patients’ wait times have gone from six to seven hours to 30 minutes.
For this, the infusion center won the Innovation Award for LBJ Hospital at Harris Health System’s Fourth Annual Innovation Summit.
LaShonda Crain, nurse clinician II, infusion center, says the award is not only a win for the units’ nurses, but also for its patients.
“With the changes that we made and implemented, our patients are able to spend less time in the infusion center and more quality time with their family and friends,” she says. “We want to provide our patients with the quality of life they deserve.”
When patients arrived at the infusion center for treatment, the process of administering a blood test, receiving lab results and sending them to the pharmacy to prepare their medicine was all done on the day of their appointment. Six to seven hours passed before a patient was seated at an infusion chair. This kept patients in the waiting room for a good portion of their day.
Through collaboration among Harris Health’s clinics, LBJ Hospital, its pharmacy and the staff at the infusion center, staff redesigned the process by having patients get their blood work done at their health center several days prior to their appointment. The results are then sent to the LBJ pharmacy—which now has a team specifically for infusion patients—to prepare the correct dosage of chemotherapy in time for the day of treatment. Now, with their medicine prepared beforehand, patients’ average wait time is a half hour.
How quickly a patient receives treatment also depends on how long other patients’ treatments last. The unit has 20 infusion chairs and each nurse manages three chairs, but they have learned to manage their time with the steady flow of patients. The infusion center now sees 40-50 patients a day, twice the amount it did before the newer, faster process.
Shilpa Patel, charge nurse, says the infusion center now has more time and space, allowing a constant, more efficient system of taking in patients throughout the day.
“When we had longer wait times, our patients knew what the process was like and were used to it,” she says. “But now they’re getting to the chair within minutes and they’re happy because they don’t have to spend a whole day here.”