Service transformation – halving time in hospital for patients with soft tissue sarcoma – Lilly UK
Following the addition of a new chemotherapy to the treatment standards for patients with soft tissue sarcoma (STS), The Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre worked with Lilly UK to halve the amount of time patients spent in hospital and free up consultant time which improved the efficiency of their chemotherapy clinic.
Under a Joint Working Agreement with Lilly UK, the project took a Lean Six Sigma approach to identify areas for improvement, which would implement a new nurse-led service to reduce the length of time patients spent in clinic.
The aim of the project was to identify where delays were occurring. Data was collected from key points in the care pathway, and this helped map out the minimum possible process time so that this could be used as a baseline target. Following this, the project set up a new Systemic Anti-Cancer Therapy (SACT) service for patients, removing them from the general clinic, therefore freeing up capacity in the general clinic and reducing patients time in hospital. The project also measured patient satisfaction with the new service, as well as efficiencies made in having a new nurse led service as opposed to one led by consultants.
The programme resulted in a series of positive changes for the SACT service. Total patient time in hospital was reduced by more than a half from 8 hours 31 minutes on average, to 3 hours 57 minutes. This is a reduction of 4 hours 34 minutes, and a equates to a reduction of 53.6 per cent. For patients whose treatment was authorised the day prior to attending for treatment, the time in hospital was reduced further, to 3 hours 18 minutes. This is a reduction of 61.3 per cent on preproject time in hospital. Surveys completed by 12 patients also showed a high rate of satisfaction with the new service.
The project highlighted that the use of process mapping was an effective tool in improving clinical efficiencies, that could be benefit in reducing patient numbers in line with new ways of working following the COVID-19 pandemic. It also demonstrated the critical role that industry can play in sharing skills to ultimately, improve patient care and their experience in the NHS.
Better for patients:
- Total patient time in hospital was reduced by more than a half – from 8 hours 31 minutes on average, to 3 hours 57 minutes.
- For patients whose treatment was authorised the day prior to attending for treatment the time in hospital was reduced further, to 3 hours 18 minutes.
Better for the NHS:
- The resultant reduction in hospital waiting times and transition to a nurse-led service, helped free up capacity for consultants for other NHS care.