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Grass-Roots Effort Solves Bottleneck

Annual Report - Winter 2012

Quality improvement touches employees at all levels

By Sandi Stromberg

Ibi Opuiyo gives little credence to the word “unfixable.”

When she united her colleagues, seeking to solve a bottleneck in patient care, this ultrasound technologist in the Department of Diagnostic Radiology turned on her computer and “attended” courses at 
MD Anderson’s Quality College.

An online offering of the Office of Performance Improvement, Quality College is open to all employees. Its aim is to help health care professionals improve patient safety and operational efficiencies in their areas through task-specific education modules and resources.

From bottleneck to easy flow

“The clinical problem in Ibi’s area was that wait times for ultrasounds were five to six weeks,” says Joseph Steele, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Diagnostic Radiology, medical director of quality improvement and deputy division head of operations.

“That wait time affected patients with thoracic, head and neck, and endocrine cancers, as well as those with melanoma. Without test results, patients were delayed in meeting with their oncologists and beginning, continuing or changing treatment,” he says.

“Quality College gave us the tools we needed — when we needed them — to change the way we did things,” Opuiyo adds. “We used a phased, all-inclusive approach and were honest about our problems. We also assigned our staff to the work group that best used each person’s skills.”

The result: The number of patients seen each day increased from 38 to a potential of 55 — and the wait time decreased to one day. The project won first place at The University of Texas System’s Clinical Safety and Effectiveness Awards in San Antonio in October 2011.

Opuiyo and her colleagues continue working to sustain the advances made during this grass-roots effort. But their assessment isn’t over. Through MD Anderson’s formal Clinical Safety and Effectiveness (CS&E) course, they will address more improvements in patient care.

With the combined attributes of a natural leader and a dedicated team player, Opuiyo is excited by the challenge of the CS&E course and its practicum.

“I keep bringing it back to management and their vision,” she says modestly. “If there’s no vision for something, it’s not going to happen. I can follow if I’m properly led with good communication.”

By the Numbers

Quality College activity for FY 11

  • Total registrants: 134
  • Total departments involved: 170

Plan-Do-Study-Act 101 Course in FY 11

  • Total completions: 651

Clinical Safety and Effectiveness Program since 2008

  • Total projects: 164
  • Total graduates: 636

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