Transforming Cancer Services Team
Diagnostics Optimisation Programme
The TCST diagnostics optimisation programme was set up in 2016, the first of its kind in the NHS. Since then it has worked with the majority of London trusts. Its aim is to help radiology and endoscopy teams improve their capacity utilisation, scheduling and patient flow. It uses tried and tested, easy to use optimisation tools and techniques with potentially significant gains to be had in productivity, improved lead times, patient throughput and performance against access targets.
The programme supports the whole diagnostic service including all referral sources and pathways: primary care, emergency, inpatient and cancer. The resulting improvements can benefit all patients and improve performance against a range of national cancer and non-cancer targets.
The detailed focus on scheduling and process mapping helps trusts implement national optimal cancer pathways for lung, prostate and colorectal.
What does a local Optimisation Project Involve?
Measuring Cycle times and Capacity Utilisation
This involves gathering and analysing data on the productivity and utilisation of high value CT, MRI and Endoscopy resources.
Patient Focused Scheduling
The most effective way to significantly reduce lead times, DNAs, patient cancellations and the associated rework for staff is to involve the patient in the scheduling of their appointment. Regular auditing of why people DNA or cancel will help identify which processes need improvement (e.g. patient preparation, patient information).
Process Mapping and Action Planning Workshop
Following analysis of the data gathered during the cycle times audit, the TCST and diagnostics team work together to identify opportunities to eliminate, combine, re-sequence and simplify existing systems and processes. This helps identify priorities for inclusion in the local improvement action plan.
An action plan for improvement is developed to address the priorities for change highlighted during the project.
Other Aspects of the Programme
- We run annual optimisation learning events to share learning and good practice among imaging and endoscopy professionals.
- We have created a patient experience film to educate teams on the experience of undergoing a diagnostic for suspect cancer.
- We have produced an optimisation handbook to enable self-improvement and self-assessment by individual diagnostic teams.
Impact of COVID 19
Since March 2020, the optimisation programme has had to be paused and the TCST diagnostics team has been supporting the London NHSE/I Regional Team’s Diagnostic Recovery and Transformation Work Programme.