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Using Business Process Redesign to Reduce Wait Times at a University Hospital in the Netherlands

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Background: Business process redesign (BPR) has been applied to implement more customer-focused and cost-effective care. In 2002, two pilot projects to improve patient care processes for two specific patient groups were conducted at the Academic Medical Center, a 1,000-bed university hospital in Amsterdam.

Methods: The BPR consisted of process analysis, identification of bottlenecks and goals for redesign, selection of interventions, and evaluation of effects. After identifying and selecting interventions with the greatest expected benefits, changes were implemented and effects were evaluated.

Results: For gynecologic oncology patients, access time (from telephone call to first visit) was reduced from 14 days to < 7 days, and the proportion of patients who completed all diagnostic examinations within 14 days increased from 49% to 83%. For dyspnea patients, access time was reduced to < 6 days, and the number of visits was halved.

Discussion: Despite the fact that we applied the same approach in these two projects, the interventions turned out to be quite different. Whereas changes in communication and planning were sufficient to eliminate bottlenecks in the gynecologic oncology project, the dyspnea project required a radical redesign of processes. Experience since these projects suggests that process redesign may have only marginal impact when the greatest bottleneck occurs, as was the case for the two BPR projects, at the point of access to central diagnostic facilities.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2007

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  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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