Space is tangible. It’s easy to see and feel when things are tight and flowing poorly. For that simple reason, end users usually default to believing that more space will resolve their operational challenges. While space constraints can restrict flow and prevent clinicians from providing an optimal experience, square footage isn’t always available, or necessary.
When we began our work with West Chester Gastroenterology they found themselves in this very position. Originally their integrated outpatient center, including physician practice space and procedure suites, was built to accommodate four endoscopy rooms. When they opened several years ago, they only used three of the labs, and that practice continues today. Although the original space was designed for four rooms and presumably included the appropriate number of patient prep and recovery positions, the group consumes all of the pre/post bays with patients for only three procedure rooms and feared they would need additional space to handle the additional volume once they equipped the fourth lab.
In their constrained leased situation, additional space was scarce. While our mission was finding ways to carve out additional patient bays, we started with an operational analysis. We discovered a staffing pattern and a scheduling practice that may have been contributing to bottlenecks and delays. We hypothesized that making subtle operational changes might improve throughput enough to avoid adding new space and the cost of construction. Using a simulation model, we helped the practice explore these options and come to agree that they could open their fourth room without any additional space. A year later, their fourth lab was operating without delay and patients reported increased satisfaction with wait times.
Download the podcast through the button below to learn more about the journey on which Laura Silvoy and I accompanied this physician practice.