Abstract for: Improving Clinic Operations with System Dynamics

An outpatient cancer center is a complex healthcare system requiring coordination of healthcare providers, nurses, and other staff. Providing timely access for patients who have complicated scheduling requirements, accommodating complex provider schedules, and managing costs are all important system goals. Clinic space is a shared resource, and the impulse to expand is always tempered by the need for sustainable growth. The pursuit of these sometimes-competing goals creates challenges. In this case study, the tools of System Dynamics and Lean/Six Sigma helped a process improvement team in an outpatient medical oncology clinic understand and address these challenges. Using stock and flow models to identify resource constraints, the interdisciplinary team applied information feedback and was able to reduce patient delays and overcrowding in a clinic without costly renovations and expansion of clinic space.