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Employees, supervisors, and managers at Seattle Children’s Hospital are constantly on the lookout for work that is no longer useful.
“We are good at adding work in. We make sure we are removing as much as we are adding,” says Sarah Thomas, senior director of access systems. A recent change involved the surgery check-in process.
Patient access staff members verified only certain items for clinic check-ins. However, for surgery check-in, they verified every piece of information on a patient’s record.
Registration manager Sara Dunn says, “The emphasis on accurate information for invasive procedures compared to outpatient clinic exams was what we had always done — historical due diligence — even if the patient had just been in for a preop appointment days before the surgery.”
Cindy Hutchinson-Iverson, a family service coordinator, saw that some of the work was redundant, and she lobbied for change.
“It was a frustrating process, and I could see how stressed families were the day of surgery, so I asked ‘Why are we doing this?”’ says Hutchinson-Iverson.
For surgery check-ins, staff now verify only the fields that require verification, including patient identifiers. Dunn says, “We are relying on our systems to work for surgery check-ins, just as we know they do for clinic check-ins.” Average time for surgery check-ins decreased from six minutes to five minutes. “This calculates to a 0.2 FTE savings,” says Dunn.
While just one minute is cut from each surgical registration, says Thomas, “when you multiply the reduced cycle time by hundreds of events in a month, it increases our capacity significantly.” The new process saves the department $11,500 annually in per diem coverage. “The great thing about it is it isn’t just a cost savings. This is a better experience for our families,” says Thomas. “They don’t want to sit with us any longer than necessary.”
Financial Disclosure: Executive Editor Joy Dickinson, Nurse Planner Kay Ball, Physician Reviewer Steven A. Gunderson, DO, and Consulting Editor Mark Mayo report no consultant, stockholder, speaker’s bureau, research, or other financial relationships with companies having ties to this field of study. Stephen W. Earnhart discloses that he is a stockholder and on the board for One Medical Passport.