Workflow system improves outcomes, efficiency, patient engagement

A new workflow optimization system piloted at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center clinic could significantly benefit both doctors and patients, according to a study published in the Physician Leadership Journal.

The Military Acuity Model was developed as part of a collaboration between the U.S. Air Force, consulting firm ProcessProxy Corporation, and Johns Hopkins researchers Shereef Elnahal, M.D., and Joseph Herman, M.D., according to the study announcement. The model analyzes physician and nurse tasks and then assesses which tasks organizations could assign to support staff.

Staff tested the model by applying the model to care activities for 139 oncology patients at the Cancer Center's outpatient pancreatic cancer clinic. They aimed to pinpoint tasks that wasted patients' or physicians' time or caused preventable symptoms and complications if mishandled. 

Cancer care requires a unique level of patient engagement, and a system designed to reduce unnecessary, time-consuming care is ideal for addressing that need, while also helping patients avoid preventable return visits, according to Herman, the clinic's director and associate professor of radiation oncology and molecular radiation sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Under the system, the clinic's daily patient volume is up 31.4 percent, and for the first seven months of the year, when the clinic is typically busiest, doctors were able to see 10 patients a day, double their existing average, according to the study.

Meanwhile, patients who made follow-up calls to the clinic about unresolved problems within 30 days of their visits fell from 34 to 22 percent, while patients who required emergency care after their visit fell from 9.9 percent to 7.9 percent.

"We are learning everything we can about patients before they walk in our door," Herman said in the announcement. "In the past, we would see patients in our clinic, look at their records and then figure out what they need. It makes much more sense to properly triage people in advance, and that's what Dr. Elnahal's system does so well."

To learn more:
- read the study (subscription required)
- here's the announcement