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Improvement Opportunities Identified from Breast Programs in the United States

Background

In partnership with the National Consortium of Breast Centers, Leica Biosystems’ Process & Solution Optimization team worked with several hospitals with the goal to improve the quality and efficiencies of their breast programs. Through this work, the team identified common barriers and improvement opportunities.

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Method

Leica Biosystems’ team of clinical and process experts spent several days at each breast center. Prior to the visit, breast program data and minutes from the leadership committee meeting were reviewed. Breast Care Team sponsors were identified, and teleconferences were conducted to gather information on the areas of concern. During the site visit, the team attended a breast conference, a breast program leadership committee (BPLC) meeting, and a cancer committee meeting. Process observations occurred from the time the patient entered the imaging suite, until the time their diagnosis and treatment plan were ready for delivery in the imaging center and pathology lab. Meetings were conducted with support staff including tumor registrars, nurse navigators, administrators and the breast surgeon.

Results

Four common barriers and improvement opportunities were identified:

Barrier#1: Lack of timely data to drive breast care coordination and prioritization
Opportunity: 1.) Education on the input of data and use of the NQMBC database to deliver reports on performance and peer comparison data.
2.) Recommendation to share data at the BPLC level to drive quality improvement initiatives.
Barrier #2: Inefficiencies in patient scheduling and prior authorizations
Opportunity: Conduct a cross-departmental process flow mapping session to identify where inefficiencies are occurring and brainstorm solutions. (i.e.: a standardized work
process, setting priorities, and a look at centralized vs. decentralized scheduling.)
Barrier #3: Lack of common goal deployment across departments
Opportunity: Initiate interdepartmental communications and emphasize the importance of interdepartmental task interdependence.
Barrier#4: Outmigration
Opportunity: 1.) Complete a community image assessment to drive program promotion and brand awareness.
2.) Track patient reasons for outmigration and address opportunities
3.) Take advantage of benchmark data and all accreditations in marketing materials

Conclusion

Our hypothesis is that the combination of clinical expertise paired with industry expertise in process improvement can create and analyze data to drive deeper conversations around provision of high quality patient care. Inclusion of lean principles and national benchmarks for quality can result in improved efficiencies for the breast center ideally leading to better patient outcomes.

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