Santen Pharmaceutical were looking at their Ophthalmology unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. Despite all the hard work at the unit they still felt like there was room for improvement. Waiting times were longer than they should have been, there were inconsistencies in the flow of patients through the unit and they could see that resources weren’t being used to their full potential. As a result of all this, patient satisfaction was low and staff were suffering from low morale.

Santen were keen to redesign their service, optimise the flow of patients and make the service in Ophthalmology run like clockwork. But inefficiencies and bottlenecks were hard to pinpoint. That’s when they called in That Figures.

The Data

That Figures soon helped Santen see what was going on. Using their non-intrusive data gathering techniques, the following sticking points were plain to see:

  • There were long wait times for patients 
  • Patients were regularly arriving late to their appointments
  • Patients were often being seen out of order
  • There were inconsistent times and frequency for appointments with staff
  • There were long wait times before patients moved on to be seen by a doctor or consultant
  • Consultation times were registering as above average
  • Pathways were showing up as inconsistent
  • There were often repeated steps in the pathways
  • 35% of the pathways had unplanned activity
  • Rooms weren’t being used to their full potential and had poor layout

A New Approach

Following the data, That Figures helped Santen identify the blockers and uncover opportunities for change that would make a real difference to the Ophthalmology unit at Royal Victoria. These were:

  1. Defining a clear specification in the Patient Workup, ensuring that their initial engagement was consistent across the sub-speciality by:
    1. Defining the details of requirements and any training needs
    2. Configuring all the spaces in exactly the same way and with all the same equipment
    3. Ensuring that handover is clearly defined and executed
  2. Providing Consultation Support at the beginning and at the end of the time spent with the patient by:
    1. Supporting staff in their roles and giving detailed definitions of tasks to undertake
    2. Defining which steps should be passed onto ‘Patient Workup’
    3. Defining what additional training is required and consider implementing the role of scribe for high volume clinics
    4. Ensuring that handover is clearly defined and executed

The Results

Santen were very successful in implementing the changes. And as a result there has been:

  • A 43% improvement in the time taken for the patient journey through the clinic
  • A reduction in patient waiting times, with patients being seen at or even before their appointment times
  • A better overall patient experience
  • A more efficient clinic delivery and capacity to up-skill nursing staff as needed
  • Much higher staff morale now that the clinics are running more smoothly

Not only that, but the Lead Clinician has since been nominated for a Trust Improvement award for all their wonderful hard work. 

Looking to the Future

The service review carried out by That Figures has uncovered a number of key learnings that Santen can continue to implement alongside the great work that they already do. These are:

  • Small inconsistencies in service can lead to much longer wait times overall
  • When services and activities are carefully planned the experience is less stressful for both patients and staff
  • Seemingly small changes in the consistency of a service or clinic structure can make a big difference
  • When all the clinic staff work well together the change is much more consistent

We wish Santen and the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast the very best for the future and look forward to hearing of their inevitable continued success.