UPMC Hillman Cancer Wellness and Integrative Oncology Program
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
- Specializing in cancer care and whole-body treatment through modalities of movement, touch, nutrition, and mindfulness
- $19 billion dollar world-renowned health care provider and insurer
- 40 hospitals with more than 8,500 licensed beds
The innovative modalities of movement, touch, nutrition, and mindfulness are used, along with conventional cancer care, to address and improve symptoms and quality-of-life. Led by a medical oncologist and supported by a team of expert therapists, practitioners and physicians, the Wellness and Integrative Oncology Program (WIOP) is a symptom-driven and evidence-based program that specializes in individual treatment plans and integrative solutions.
Created a time-stamped blueprint of the current state of patient experience that the program could identify opportunities for patient services and coordination of care.
Through patient and provider stories, capture the value of the WIOP and the necessary infrastructure to export the program to other centers worldwide.
Use perception mapping to identify the gaps in time and variety of tasks in what clinical and non-clinical staff think that do on a daily basis and what they actually do and for how much time. Use the results of perception mapping to collaboratively create and move towards a more ideal patient and staff experience.
The goal of the goShadow engagement was to shadow patient and staff processes, blueprint the WIOP experience and engage and stakeholders in the identification of areas for improvement. The WIOP model had received praise from clinicians and patients for the team’s unique ability to connect patients with providers and services not usually offered in a clinical setting. Due to the popularity of the program, scaling and exporting the core tenets of WIOP to other facilities was considered but could not be executed due to the lack of a blueprint. The creation of goShadow discovery and process maps were intended to aid in the adoption of the program and its essential components. By documenting administrative and clinical requirements, measuring patient and staff flow and experience, a benchmark and complete readiness assessment was created for any new potential site.
goShadow was engaged by the Wellness and Integrative Oncology Program (WIOP) over a six week period. The goal of the shadowing process was to evaluate and map their patient pathway into, through and out of the Wellness Center, as well as to document the patient pathway from the staff perspective. While patients provided qualitative feedback about coordination and flow into and out of other provider and testing facilities, the shadowing team followed patients from the entrance to the second-floor outpatient treatment center, through financial counseling, vitals and triage, to the WIOP for physician assessment and treatment.
The Wellness and Integrative Oncology Program clinical staff and physical space was at capacity for treating existing patients. As a result, the waiting time for a new patient appointment could be months long. New patient volume was increasing, as was the need to see repeat patients. The demand for services and therapies was exceeding providers’ bandwidth.
Employee engagement, agility and morale among the small staff was high. However occasional turnover led to issues with training and onboarding new therapists, as well as schedule management and coordination. The necessity to utilize at least three to four electronic health records and IT programs simultaneously increased training time, led to staff frustration, and created an opportunity to re-gain efficiency in their day to day life.
Staff members were tasked with crucial administrative and patient coordination tasks, as well as the management of the concierge experience for patients. In addition to part-time therapists, these staff members were often the most over-utilized and underpaid. The importance and level of effort of many of these activities had never been quantified or fully recognized by clinical and administrative leadership because of their own responsibilities.
goShadow Assessment and Recommendations
The process map and shadowing data from the employee perspective gave the WIOP insights into potential issues that arise from a single employee handling many operational duties while providing patient facing concierge service.
Patient shadowing insights indicated the need for increased treatment space in the WIOP, as well as an enhancement of the nutritional programming offered as an integrative therapeutic option.
A process blueprint representing patient and staff experience from scheduling an appointment through treatment in the WIOP office was created for a step-wise understanding of the patient journey, including back- end administrative and staff tasks. These documents were used in onboarding and training of new staff and interns. A program-specific analysis was created, including staff time and tasks along with patient insights, for the WIOP to use in communications with hospital administration about the impact of the program, in order to increase funding and support.
The Wellness and Integrative Oncology Program used the goShadow recommendation and patient insights to secure funding and UPMC Hillman Cancer Center administrative support for a full-time nutritionist position.
Additional personnel were added at check-in and “front of house” to assist the Administrative Assistant in program function and management. While patient experience scores soared, the addition of staff to assist the Administrative Assistant ensured that patients were triaged properly and received customized concierge care from the first time that they called the WIOP.
The WIOP program blueprint was used to assess potential sites interested in adopting the WIOP model globally and in outpatient oncology centers within the Greater Pittsburgh area.
goShadow reports have been used by the WIOP to support the need for additional office space to provide expanded services requested by patients, such as nutritional counseling, group yoga, and physical therapy.
The WIOP used goShadow Opportunity Reports to assess and meet the need for targeted messaging to highlight their highly-customized, integrative services. The increased marketing presence suggested by goShadow won the support of hospital administration. As a result, the WIOP now holds an expanded and prominent location in the hospital lobby.
The WIOP Offerings
The WIOP currently offers a variety of integrative therapies to help with symptom management and quality of life including:
- Concierge coordination of oncology-related and specialist physician appointments and care plan
- Oncology Massage
- Group and Private Yoga
- Nutritional Counseling
- Medical Marijuana Support and Education