CASE STUDY

Process optimization to support adoption of new technology

Situation

A client developed a new oncology treatment that required a companion diagnostic (CDx). The specific diagnostic test was currently funded for screening and prevention purposes. Before a positive decision to increase funding of the test to include a CDx role it was expected that laboratories had to show that they optimized current service levels.

Initial discussions with clinicians and stakeholders revealed that the current test (operating primarily for screening and prevention), was already experiencing strain from the existing volume of tests.

Diagnosis

The investigation also determined that testing processes across Canada were complicated and varied considerably in terms of efficiency and funding. As well, the assessment indicated that the majority of ‘bottlenecks’ in the system were associated with access to testing. Wait times varied from weeks to months, based on patient priority and the site-specific efficiencies. The incremental volume of testing for the CDx was anticipated to add more stress the system. It was also recognized that it was important to collaborate with the clinical, laboratory and administrative communities to address challenges and develop enhancements to accommodate the potential increase in testing volume.

An interdisciplinary pilot program was recommended to identify potential process changes and enhancements at a pilot site. The model and process could then be applied to other sites.

Solution

A pilot hospital was recruited and key stakeholders were interviewed about the current process, what was working well, and what could be improved. The data were develop into a process map and opportunities for enhancement were identified.

A workshop on the process led to the development of short and long-term targets for improvement. The short terms opportunities were prioritized and preliminary action plans were outlined for the top priorities.

Result

The interdisciplinary group appreciated working together. Several of the short-term priorities were acted upon immediately. These actions helped to improve the quality and volume of the testing service without increasing their budget.

The hospital (and client) was better prepared to request additional support for the CDx when the innovative treatment would be available. The experience and lessons learned from the pilot were used to develop the tools and approach for the client to use with other accounts/provinces to optimize their processes before requesting additional funding.

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