How iQueue helped Novant Health expand its infusion center, shorten its wait times

By September 7, 2021 September 12th, 2021 News

Two infusion centers at Novant Health — a health system covering North and South Carolina — were struggling with long wait times, lack of seats and staff stress.

Novant needed to address existing operational issues before it expanded infusion centers any further.

By using iQueue, Novant put machine learning and predictive analytics to work on its behalf, improving operational agility and becoming able to expand infusion services while shrinking its waiting areas.

During a September webinar hosted by Becker’s Hospital Review and sponsored by LeanTaaS, Lisa Rioux, RN, BSN, and Susan Perrella, RN, both nurse managers with Novant Health, described how they expanded Novant’s infusion centers. Mike Castille, senior product implementation and customer success manager from LeanTaaS, addressed participant questions.

Three key takeaways:

1. Two infusion centers faced multiple pain points going into expansion efforts. One Novant infusion center was reducing seats and transitioning to non-oncology services, while another was expanding to take a growing volume of oncology cases. Because these infusion centers were using block scheduling, they usually ran out of seats during midday peak hours and could not accommodate same-day add-on appointments. Nurses struggled to take lunch breaks. “We needed to make some type of change moving into our new space, which was going to be three times the size,” Ms. Perrella said. “Otherwise, we were going to have bigger problems on a larger scale.”

2. After implementing iQueue, these infusion centers reduced patient wait times, eased stress on nursing staff and obtained important data to continue improvements. Planning for iQueue implementation began in February 2020 with a go-live date of June 1, 2020. The average infusion wait time dropped about 40 percent, and drug wait times decreased nearly 10 percent. By eliminating midday bottlenecks and unlocking capacity, the centers now have an average of two additional open seats during their peak hours. “After we implemented iQueue, patient flow was evened out so that nurses could keep up; pharmacies could mix and deliver medication in a timely manner,” Ms. Rioux said. “However, those extra seats were most impactful to us.” Patients seeing providers in the building could now add an infusion appointment on the same day without a long wait.

3. Best practices include flexibility, improved workflows and provider and patient buy-in. “We’ve learned to be very adaptable and flexible, especially during COVID,” Ms. Perrella said. “iQueue allowed us to change appointment availability on a weekly basis.” Mr. Castille added that “iQueue is designed to focus on what is most important to each infusion center. We can help you be adaptive and reactive in many different situations.”

At Novant’s infusion centers, iQueue allows nurses to take a 30-minute lunch break and cover for one another in a manageable way. “The nurse allocation tool allows us to shuffle resources around, helping us to level load assignments so nurses aren’t overwhelmed,” Ms. Perrella said. The infusion centers also used data to make better staffing decisions, accurately report results to leadership teams and analyze wait time, add-on and no-show rates. Working with providers to more efficiently schedule shared patients and introducing the reasons for the changes with patients early on helped obtain both provider and patient buy-in.