Background

Infusion centers intravenously administer medication to patients as an alternative to oral treatments. Types of medication administered include: antibiotics, chemotherapy, and narcotics for pain management. The list of pharmaceuticals used in treatment is numerous and poses a serious financial burden for patients and hospitals alike. Medications are made on-site once a patient arrives for treatment. This approach attempts to avoid the large sunk cost of unused drugs if a patient does not show up for their appointment.

Although medication cost plays an important role within infusion centers, infusion center wait times pose an epidemic problem to their efficiency. This problem poses concern to patients eager to receive the dire medications they need to function. A recent study provided by Health Marketing Quarterly addresses the effects of wait times on patients’ perception of care [2]. Of those surveyed in the analysis, patients suggest “wait time, likeability, and satisfaction all affect perceived quality”. Such, there is a direct link between wait times and patient satisfaction. Additionally, from the patient standpoint, one that perceives better treatment in effect may recommend their clinic to others needing treatment creating a domino effect as word of mouth spreads.

Bohui Liang, et al.[3], provides a comprehensive explanation of the issue facing modern chemotherapy clinics:

Uncertainties such as unpunctual arrivals, delays in laboratory and pharmacy areas, increase or decrease in treatment durations due to side effects or dose changes, cancellations, and add-ons, occur during a typical clinic day. All these uncertainties affect patient flow and staff workflow. Patients experience long waiting times due to delays in laboratory, pharmacy, and chemotherapy administration areas, and providers and staff experience an unbalanced workload throughout the day. Reducing patient waiting times is among the highest priorities for quality improvement and patient satisfaction in outpatient cancer treatment facilities.

As indicated, addressing the relevant and paramount subject of wait times within infusion centers may better help bridge the divide between patient satisfaction within these clinics and an unbalanced workload throughout the work week. Such, both parties may benefit from process improvement.