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Keeping M. D. Anderson Vital

Annual Report - Winter 2010

By Julie Penne

Like so many organizations feeling the pinch of today’s economy, M. D. Anderson has made important decisions to protect its ability to deliver the best in knowledge-driven patient care.

To maintain the institution’s economic equilibrium, M. D. Anderson’s leaders developed a variety of cost-cutting opportunities and examined ways to increase patient volumes.

What resulted, among many moves, was a major change in April 2009 that yielded positive results: M. D. Anderson removed medical criteria for persons who sought treatment or second opinions, opening the doors to more patients.

Without these criteria, more patients had access to M. D. Anderson’s standard of care and clinical trials. Along the way, the institution was able to streamline financial clearance and get patients in faster for their first appointments.

The result: new patient wait times for first appointments were cut in half, from an average of 15 working days to 7.5 days. Some patients who called during this time were even able to get in the same day.

At the end of the fiscal year, there was an average of 6,600 new patient and consult visits per month, an increase from about 5,400 monthly before the new program began.

Despite this increase in daily clinic visits, tests, hospitalizations, surgeries and treatments, patients continued to receive the safe, high-quality care they expect and need from M. D. Anderson.

More patients had access to M. D. Anderson's standard of care and clinical trials.

The solution contributed to strong numbers at the end of the year, although resources to accommodate the increased number of patients were stretched, especially in M. D. Anderson’s Emergency Center and inpatient bed units.

“With the test of troubling financial times came a lesson in balancing the number of patients with the available resources and establishing medical criteria that are simple, transparent, equitable and uniform across the institution while providing
M. D. Anderson’s expertise to more patients,” says Thomas Burke, M.D., executive vice president and physician-in-chief.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center