MD Anderson Cancer Center Taps Technology to Empower Patients
by Megan Chavez
MD Anderson Cancer Center is ranked as one of the world’s most respected institutions focused on cancer patient care, research, education, and prevention. It invests more than $647 million a year in research and ranks first both in the number of grants and total grant dollars from the National Cancer Institute. Since 1944, about 900,000 patients have turned to MD Anderson for care. The institution currently maintains 616 inpatient beds and 26 outpatient clinics that scheduled more than 1.2 million visits in 2012. Its exceptional clinical care reputation, however, could not overcome the fact that its complex registration process was perceived as overwhelming.
The registration process was time-consuming because of the level of information required before physicians saw a patient for the first time. The complexity of the patient’s condition and the scope of MD Anderson’s physician specialties required detailed information to ensure the right doctor was assigned and tests could be scheduled in time for the patient’s first visit. The process could take as little as a day or up to several weeks, depending on the patient’s case. The registration process was conducted on the phone during business hours. Patients were not always aware of their status, which resulted in more phone calls. Clinics reported that up to 40 percent of their daily calls were from patients asking where they were in the process.
MD Anderson Cancer Center executives knew that the complicated registration process was leading to a loss of referrals. Patients dropped off as they obtained appointments with other providers who could see them more quickly because they did not require the same level of information.