AlternativeOutpatientChemotherapy scheduling method to improve patient service quality and nurse satisfaction

Yu Li Huang, Alan H. Bryce, Tracy Culbertson, Sarah L. Connor, Sherry A. Looker, Kristin M. Altman, James G. Collins, Winston Stellner, Robert R. McWilliams, Alvaro Moreno-Aspitia, Sikander Ailawadhi, Ruben A. Mesa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Introduction Optimal scheduling and calendar management in an outpatient chemotherapy unit is a complex process that is driven by a need to focus on safety while accommodating a high degree of variability. Primary constraints are infusion times, staffing resources, chair availability, and unit hours. Methods We undertook a process to analyze our existing management models across multiple practice settings in our health care system, then developed a model to optimize safety and efficiency. The model was tested in one of the community chemotherapy units. We assessed staffing violations as measured by nurse-to-patient ratios throughout the workday and at key points during treatment. Staffing violations were tracked before and after the implementation of the new model. Results The new model reduced staffing violations by nearly 50% and required fewer chairs to treat the same number of patients for the selected clinic day. Actual implementation results indicated that the new model leveled the distribution of patients across the workday with an 18% reduction in maximum chair utilization and a 27% reduction in staffing violations. Subsequently, a positive impact on peak pharmacy workload reduced delays by as much as 35 minutes. Nursing staff satisfaction with the new model was positive. Conclusion We conclude that the proposed optimization approach with regard to nursing resource assignment and workload balance throughout a day effectively improves patient service quality and staff satisfaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e82-e91
JournalJournal of oncology practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)
  • Health Policy


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