Breaking the rules for better care

October 18, 2018  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership,

Deanna Carr-West (left) helped administer the survey in Radiation Oncology, with the assistance of OPE project lead Julie Wietzke (right).

In June, the Office of Patient Experience’s Patient and Family Engagement team debuted a survey at the Rogel Cancer Center and Radiation Oncology clinic called Breaking the Rules for Better Care to hear directly from those on the front lines.

OPE administered the survey to faculty, staff, patients and families with one simple question, “If you could change one thing or break one rule to improve the patient experience, what would it be and why?”

There were more than 670 responses, many of which came from patients and families.

Meaningful feedback

“Our faculty and staff were very curious to hear from patients and their families,” said Jennifer Camilleri, associate director of clinical operations at the Rogel Cancer Center. “Fortunately, carrying out such a broad-based survey allowed us to get meaningful feedback.”

Many of the responses were simply kudos to faculty and staff, as patients and families expressed their thanks and appreciation for the care they received at Michigan Medicine. However, there were also a large number of suggestions for improvement.

In the Rogel Cancer Center, for example, one of the top areas of concerns identified was wait times. Patients indicated that there were long waits between appointments or at blood draw stations. These responses were not a surprise — in fact, the survey responses provided additional support for existing priorities.

The Rogel Cancer Center is already planning for a renovation in the blood draw area that will add six more stations. There are also planned renovations in the infusion pharmacy area to add a clean room — which will allow staff members to mix and store necessary drugs ahead of time so that patients do not have to wait for their prescriptions.

In the end, the work is designed to lessen wait times and improve the patient experience for all.

Taking action

“In Radiation Oncology, we were excited to participate in the survey,” said Deanna Carr-West, a radiation therapist who was the lead in administering the survey in her area.

While they were happy to receive kudos and positive feedback, faculty and staff said they were not surprised to see some of the concerns noted by patients and families.

“We were aware of many of the issues because of our active Patient and Family Advisory Committee (PFAC),” said Carr-West. “As current and former patients, they give us first-hand feedback about their experience.”

Common themes for improvement included: communication, environment of care and check-in/appointment management. The clinic is already in the process of addressing some of these areas, such as updating the dressing rooms in the clinic and requesting a bid to redesign the front lobby area.

The department is also in the process of creating a web-based application for appointment management, which will allow patients to see the real-time wait times at the clinic.

The clinic is also working with a Lean team from Quality to review the appointment rescheduling process. Currently, patients have to wait until 48 hours before an appointment to reschedule it, which can create frustration and anxiety in patients and families who are already dealing with the stress of managing their care.

Gaining feedback in your area

The recent survey was an Institute for Healthcare Improvement initiative aimed at getting quick feedback on immediate concerns of patients, according to Julie Wietzke, administrative manager for adult services, who served as project lead for OPE.

“I thought it would be useful data to supplement what we already know from patient satisfaction surveys and patient relations data,” said Wietzke. The same thoughts were echoed by Camilleri, who said that results from the survey were an immediate validation of the strategies and priorities being implemented at the Rogel Cancer Center.

Are you interested in hearing directly from the patients and families in your area? Or do you want your staff to have the opportunity to make suggestions on behalf of patients? The Office of Patient Experience is ready to help departments and clinics interested in administrating the Breaking the Rules for Better Care survey.

“We’re thrilled that the Rogel Cancer Center and radiation oncology took the lead on this initiative — and we can help you plan and execute the initiative as well as partner on any project work that results from the feedback gathered,” said Wietzke.

To learn more about the survey or to partner on conducting a survey in your area, please contact the Office of Patient Experience at