A detailed study of Kingston Hospitals Outpatient experience, followed by the implementation of simple changes to the chest clinic journey and a review of benefits achieved
Kingston hospital was a short bus ride from where we used to live and a place I knew well. It was where Karen and I’s two beautiful children were born and the closest hospital in the event of an accident or emergency. When Alan Thorne, the Hospitals Transformation Director, reached out for help with his project to transform the Outpatient experience it was an easy call to make.
Hospital outpatient units are vast, complicated environments, difficult to navigate and not always the most enjoyable places to visit. They are also the main front door of a hospital, so a bad experience in one department can have an impact on a patient’s perception of the entire hospital trust.
We started our engagement by carrying out a study of different outpatient journeys and departments, to help us understand the problems patients faced when checking in at main reception, finding their way and to get to the root causes of why so many appointments were delayed. Our findings were quite revealing uncovering significant opportunities to eliminate waste and delays to reduce the very high levels of anxiety and frustration patients were experiencing.
We had a huge mountain to climb! Changing everything at once would require significant investment in buildings, facilities, new technology and most importantly the culture of hospital staff. Although improving patient experience was one of the hospitals objectives, to do something about it was completely a different matter. A call to action was required!
We decided to focus on one area first, where problems seemed worst and easiest to fix without huge financial investment – the chest clinic journey. We worked with consultants, nurses and support staff implementing simple process changes at each stage of the patient journey, from checking in, through radiology, on to consultation until patients left the clinic. One of the biggest problems we solved was delays caused by radiology and the timely delivery of X-Ray results for scheduled appointments.
When we measured the impact of these changes, we were amazed with the results. We saw a 70% reduction in delayed appointments, as well as significant improvements in the utilisation of valuable resources such as consultants, nurses and support staff.
The path to change would be long, however our project acted as a catalyst making it easier for Alan and his team to secure funding to invest in further changes across Outpatients. I can say with hand on heart, thanks to our joint efforts, that anyone who now visits Kingston’s main Outpatient Department will now have a far better experience than before.
AT A GLANCE:
- A study of multiple outpatient journeys and departments to uncover quantifiable findings, quick wins and opportunities for improvement
- Implementation of simple process changes to the chest clinic journey and a review of benefits achieved:
Nurse meets with consultants before chest clinic opens to ensure timely start
Main OPD Reception:
Welcome person greets all patients, signposts and assists with self-check-in
New chest clinic patients are informed to go to Radiology for X-Ray first (if required)
Slot times allocated for chest clinic patients requiring X-Ray – patients informed in advance
Timely delivery of X-Ray results / plain film to chest clinic in time for scheduled appointment
Chest Clinic Reception:
Reception receive patient into clinic, advise on position in queue and of any delays
Deliver consultation on time with focus on patient need – clinic reception informed of any delays
Patient leaves with expected information e.g. drugs, diagnostics, follow up appointment
Chest clinic reception ensures patient leaves with next clinic and / or diagnostic booked
- Significant reduction in delayed appointments from 80% to less than 10%
- Increased utilisation of chest clinic resources from 47% of time spent with patients to 79%
- Increased patient satisfaction from 41% satisfied with experience to 83%
- Project acted as a catalyst for change across the entire outpatient department