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Optimal time management on linear accelerator: A logical model to reduce patient waiting time

1 Department of Radiation Oncology, St. John's Medical College Hospital, St. John's National Academy of Health Sciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Radiotherapy, National Centre for Cancer Care and Research, Doha, Qatar

Correspondence Address:
Avinash H Udayashankar,
Department of Radiation Oncology, St John's Medical College Hospital, St John's National Academy of Health Sciences, Sarjapur Road, Bengaluru - 560 034, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jcrt.JCRT_841_18

Introdction: Optimal time management is of utmost importance in the radiotherapy department. Inappropriate allocation of time slots leads to prolonged waiting times and decreased patient satisfaction during external beam radiotherapy. The present study tests a logical model to improve the waiting time for the patients. Materials and Methods: The treatment time, waiting time, and causes of delay were studied from November 4, 2014, to July 24, 2015. New rules were framed for treatment slot allocation from December 26, 2014. The treatment slots were classified based on the treatment technology (three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy and intensity-modulated radiotherapy) with inclusion of “buffer slots” and patient education. The results were compared before and after rules. Results: A total of 1032 time slots were analyzed, of which 225 “before rules” and 807 “after rules,” respectively. There was a significant reduction in the average waiting time for treatment in on-time patients (median [interquartile range (IQR)] of 25.2 min [31.75] vs. 3 min [3.5]; P < 0.00001) as well as in late-coming patients (median [IQR] of 38.2 min [13.795] vs. 21.11 min [12.75]; P = 0.00006). 59.7% (71 patients) of the treatment was delayed “before rules” as opposed to 32.2% (137 patients) “after rules” in on-time patients. Due to better patient education, there was a significant improvement in the patient punctuality toward the allotted time. Conclusion: The treatment slots classified based on the teletherapy technique with buffer slots, and patient education helps in better time management on linear accelerator. This methodology significantly reduces waiting time and thereby the number of patients having delay in the treatment.

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