box10.gif (1299 bytes)







Diagnostic imaging

St. Joseph’s uses Lean to reduce MRI wait times

LONDON, Ont. – MRI wait times at St. Joseph’s Health Care, London, have been cut nearly in half for many patients as a result of a process improvement project. The project, aimed at enhancing capacity and efficiency, closely assessed MRI booking and scheduling processes as well as patient flow. The one-year initiative, which began in April 2009, has accomplished the following:

• The number of MRI exams performed per week has increased from 197 to 212, which means an additional 780 patients are now being scanned each year at St. Joseph’s.

• The number of days between an exam being ordered and performed has plummeted from 104 days to 50 days for semi-urgent patients and from 149 to 60 days for non-urgent patients.

• Booking turnaround time (average time between fax received and booking completed) has decreased from 13 days to 1.5 days.

MRI protocols and procedures have undergone tremendous change due to advances over the past five years, explains Dr. Walter Romano (pictured), co-chief, radiology, St. Joseph’s Health Care, London. “As a result, processes dealing with the performance of MRI must also change, and that’s what we’ve taken the time to do.”

The project focused on semi-urgent and non-urgent cases. Urgent MRI cases are triaged and booked according to urgency.

“With demand for MRI constantly on the rise it became imperative to look at the MRI service in its entirety - the patient experience from beginning to end - to see how we could do things differently,” adds Glen Kearns, integrated vice president, clinical support services and information technology services. “That’s what this project did and why it has been successful.”

Building on St. Joseph’s long-standing team approach to quality improvement, the results were accomplished by applying Lean improvement strategies. Originating in the manufacturing industry, Lean principals involve identifying inefficiencies in processes and addressing them to ensure the right tools at the right time to achieve the right outcome.

Work is ongoing to further refine processes and continue to reduce wait times.

Posted August 26, 2010