Cleveland Clinic’s new cancer center designed to improve patient experience and reduce wait times

Brian J. Bolwell, M.D., says the Cleveland Clinic will open its new $276 million Taussig Cancer Center on Monday. Photo courtesy of The Cleveland Clinic.

The Cleveland Clinic, already a leader in patient satisfaction, will take the patient experience to another level when it opens its new cancer center on Monday.

The $276 million, seven-story building was designed with feedback from former patients, who described what would make their experience as ideal, welcoming and healing as possible. The Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute will house all outpatient cancer treatment services in one location, with the center’s team of medical and radiation oncologists, surgeons, nurses, genetic counselors and social workers all working together in one shared space to improve patient outcomes.

“Every step of the way we thought of cancer patients as they go through their journey,” Brian J. Bolwell, M.D., chairman of the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute, told FierceHealthcare in an exclusive interview. “A lot of what we did is unique and I’m very happy with the result."

Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute
The new Cleveland Clinic cancer center

Patients who used to receive treatment at the old location will notice the difference from the moment they drive to the entrance. The drop-off/pick-up area is cantilevered to protect patients from the elements and the entrance to the building is covered by a 350-foot canopy.

To create a sense of healing, positivity and hope, the building was designed to allow natural light throughout the building. Infusion rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows and a skylight allows natural light into the lower level, where patients receive radiation and imaging services. “We didn’t want anything dark or dreary,” Bolwell said.

Because patients are often in the building for a long time, such as for chemotherapy, every infusion chair is located by a window that faces the north side of the building. Bolwell said that patients also tested different infusion chairs at a fair so the center could select the most comfortable chairs. The infusion space also features enough outlets so patients and family members can charge their mobile devices.

To reduce wait times and improve patient flow, the design team focused its attention on efficiency. Several of the cancer centers that the team visited had long lines for patients to get their blood drawn to check blood counts. Time isn’t a luxury for cancer patients, Bolwell noted, and the concept of time changes the moment a patient receives a diagnosis. One location had a chalkboard that said the waiting time was 45 minutes to an hour. “That didn’t seem okay to me,” Bolwell said.

“The first thing we did was put the lab on the first floor. It’s the first thing that you’ll find when you enter the building. A lot of times labs don’t have enough space, so we allocated significant space to it. We’ve put it in the right location with enough space and resources to make it efficient as possible. I’m optimistic that we have,” he said.

Cleveland Clinic cancer center main lobby
Also on the open first-floor level: a resource center where patients can look up information, a wig boutique, an area for prosthetics, a room for art therapy, reiki and music therapy, and a quiet space where patients can go to rest, reflect or pray.

The building is also organized by cancer type so patients can have all of their appointments in one area. Bolwell also said the design should help newly diagnosed patients receive treatment more quickly, efficiently and effectively.

The facility will also feature an outpatient pharmacy, a retail store stocked with items to meet cancer patients’ needs and a café that accommodates special diets. Other clinical features include:

  • 126 exams rooms and 98 treatment rooms 
  • Private chemotherapy infusion suites 
  • Genetics and genomics testing
  • A centralized home for existing high-level treatment technology, including six linear accelerators and a Gamma Knife suite
  • On-site diagnostic imaging
  • Dedicated area for phase 1, 2 and 3 clinical trials