Reducing registration times from 10 minutes to 10 seconds

Wait times at the front desk will soon be a thing of the past! A new self-check-in system is making life easier for patients

The last thing cancer patients need when they are dealing with fatigue, pain and other side effects of treatment is having to line up to register when they arrive for their appointment.

As part of its commitment to improve the experience of cancer patients, the RCN is set to make the check-in process more convenient and improve privacy in the network hospitals.

A request for change

Like all our Patient Experience projects, the impetus came from feedback gathered from standardized surveys and focus groups. Almost three-quarters of patients told us that the paper-number system used for check-in led to uncertainty, and that the wait to access the front desk was too long.

As a result, a multi-hospital team managed by RCN project manager Gligorka Raskovic, and which included oncologists, medical physicists, technologists and IT and administrative technicians, is addressing these concerns with the help of a pilot project at the MUHC’s radiation oncology clinic — an extremely busy unit with 200 patients per day.

For the first phase of the project last summer, a plasma screen was installed in the doctors’ team room, allowing physicians to see how long patients have been waiting, and clarifying where patients were as they moved in the unit to see various health professionals. At the same time, a new work flow for managing the waiting room and the doctor’s team room was implemented. 

“When you see how long your patient has been waiting, that pushes you to adjust your behaviour – at least it certainly helped me adjust mine!,” explains Dr. Tarek Hijal, project co-lead and a radiation oncologist at the MUHC. “Now that we see where our patient is in the unit, we can more easily go to see them.”

Quick and easy

The next phase of the project last fall saw three new self-check-in kiosks installed. Now, returning patients just scan their medicare card to register and the entire health care team — oncologists, technologists, and administrative staff — knows immediately that they have arrived.

In addition to being able to take a seat more quickly, patients also benefit because staff at the registration desk is now free to answer questions or help with forms or appointments.

After implementing these changes, wait times for registration fell from over 10 minutes per patient (at peak times) to about 10 seconds. More than 80% of patients are now using the new system and over 85% were very satisfied with the speed and ease of use.

Eileen, who is receiving radiotherapy for breast cancer felt it was a big improvement. “It’s much more convenient: You just scan your card. The screen [on the kiosk] also shows you if your appointment is behind schedule.”

Track your turn

For the next phase of the project a plasma screen will be installed in the waiting rooms indicating which patient is being called and what room they should go to.  As a result, patients won’t need to strain to hear their name being called, and won’t worry that they’ve missed their turn if they step out for a moment. 
Lessons learned from the MUHC experience will inform similar self-check-in systems at the JGH and SMHC.

Back to top