Have you ever had the experience of waiting in an office for your doctor’s appointment, only to have someone who arrived after you called in first? If so, you are probably familiar with the feelings of confusion and annoyance that were plaguing many visitors to the Montefiore Hutchinson urology department.

Labor and management joined forces last summer at the Montefiore Hutchinson campus to figure out ways to improve the wait experience for urology patients. With assistance from labor management consultant AnaElsa Aviles, a labor-management team was formed to embark on a process improvement initiative. PDSA—Plan, Do, Study, Act—was the process improvement tool of choice. During the planning phase, the team surveyed patients about their waiting room experience. The majority of both first-time and returning patients indicated a desire for periodic updates on their wait time. A second survey determined how often they were being told about their wait time.

With information in hand, the team set to work educating all staff about their role in informing patients about delays. Meanwhile, the LPNs and front-desk staff put into place a seemingly simple strategy that had a significant impact. As team member Dorla Menzies, LPN, explained at a sponsors’ meeting: “We realized that, depending on the doctor and on the planned procedure, some patients were waiting longer than others. Patients would get confused and frustrated if someone who arrived after them was called into the exam room before they were called. We decided to include the doctor’s name when we called the patient’s name to the exam room. That helped them understand that the patient sitting next to them might be waiting for a different doctor.”

The process improvement work is still underway, but that one simple change in procedure has already made the waiting room calmer and patients more relaxed.

“I love the human touch you’ve used,” Lissen Simonsen, Senior Director of Montefiore Hutchinson and project sponsor, told the team. “Good interactions with patients make a big difference in their experience.” 1199SEIU Union Contract Administrator Pansey Saa-Llewellyn was also impressed by the team’s progress. “The urology workers have been empowered, have embraced the goals of the process improvement project, and were able to implement their ideas successfully to deliver the changes to improve wait time for better patient experience,” she said.

The labor-management team is co-led by Urology Operations Manager Scott Santoro and Senior Secretary Jennifer Duran. Its other members are Yotizia Cumberbatch, LPN; Lawrence Clinton, senior clerk; Dorla Menzies, LPN, and three alternates.

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