In Our Sights

Patient Centered Care

In 2013, UW Health Eye Clinics faculty and staff recognized a need to improve clinic processes, so an internal dedicated team was developed. That nascent idea evolved into establishing the Quality Improvement Steering Committee (QISC) comprised of faculty and clinical leadership that interfaced with UW Hospital QI leadership. The QISC supports clinical staff individually and in teams with engagements in testing, piloting and implementing redesigned clinical work efforts, with the goal of ensuring the sustainability of process improvements.

“Our providers have consistently received positive patient feedback for their attentiveness and care, but when we dug into patient survey data, we recognized an opportunity to streamline and better the way patients experience the clinic as a whole.”

Dr. Gregg Heatley, associate professor of ophthalmology and one of the leaders of the QI team

In 2017, Dr. Terri Young, department chair and professor of ophthalmology, continued to build on the work by the QI team by employing and adding a lean-modeling consultant and his team to the department. “Our QISC has been an influential force in improving standardization of internal clinical functions to ultimately enhance the patient experience,” Dr. Young explained. “Since our providers and supporting clinical staff knew the clinic inside and out, they contributed thoughtful and meaningful ways to create change on a micro level. My vision for bringing in a lean-modeling consultant was to advance those efforts by identifying cultural and institutional challenges to make substantive change on the macro level.”

Aneesh Suneja, consultant and president of FlowOne, Inc., spent the first few months of the partnership analyzing the clinic and macro processes that needed a different approach. Next, with staff input and education, changes were implemented. Examples of the advancements completed in the past year include adding real-time patient wait time tracking screens, installing a refrigerator and other necessary consumables centrally in the retina service pod to reduce the turnaround time for ocular injections, optimizing scheduling templates, promoting technician and photographer cross-training, redesigning patient flow to reduce the number of footsteps for both the providers and patients, reorganizing examination rooms by embracing lean 5s principles, and increasing teamwork among providers and staff. The front-line staff and administrative leadership have achieved a cultural transformation with these measures, and the efforts are paying off. In July of 2018, the UW Health University Station Eye Clinic Surgery Scheduling Team, which consists of nurse practitioners, registered nurses and surgery schedulers, was recognized with a 2017 UW Health Patient and Family Experience Clinic Team Award. The team received this award based on patient survey feedback, and it underscores the value of the work initiated by the QISC and enhanced by FlowOne. Currently, new clinical staff teams are forming to address upcoming waves of process improvements in areas such as triage and ancillary testing.

The knowledge, experience and data documented as a result of this endeavor highlighted the need not only for continued process improvement, but also for updated and consolidated UW Health Eye Clinic facilities to provide efficient and consistent care focused on the overall patient experience. A flagship eye care facility with modern, state-of the art, patient-oriented features is needed to provide diagnostic, interventional, research and physical accommodations that live up to the exemplary level of care we already provide. A central location to provide patients with all the clinicians, diagnostic resources, research and physical accommodations that live up to the level of care we already provide. This is an audacious goal, but it is one that is possible because of these persistent and impactful efforts.