Physician Collaboration Helps Design Ideal Patient Experience at New Cancer Building

Facility goal is efficient diagnostics and patient care

Designers of Cleveland Clinic’s new 377,000-square-foot cancer facility (opening in March 2017) incorporated input from experts closest to the leading edge in cancer care — that is Cleveland Clinic surgeons, oncologists and other specialists, as well as current and former cancer patients themselves.

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The goal of this inclusive collaboration was to design a facility that comes as close as possible to offering an ideal patient experience and top-of-line cancer care.

Using this multidisciplinary approach, a design team comprised of various specialties examined all facets of the patient experience. From patient rooms to diagnostic equipment, beds, exam tables and more, the team’s focus was on creating an environment that provides the most efficient and thorough treatment and care for cancer patients.

The design team was instrumental in helping determine patient flow throughout the facility. Rather than having to schedule multiple appointments or travel to different places or buildings to receive care, patients will stay in one room and their doctors and specialists will come to them — helping to minimize transit and wait times and maximize convenience for both patients and physicians. The combination of clinical care and support services available in the new facility will also be of benefit to both physicians and patients.

Surgeons instrumental to building design

As a colorectal surgeon in Cleveland Clinic’s Digestive Disease Institute and one of the Co-Directors of a new Comprehensive Colorectal Cancer Program at the facility, Matthew Kalady, MD, was heavily involved in the design process, coordinating with other surgeons on layout, new equipment selection and patient experience at the new building.

“Several surgeons were involved in design planning from Day One,” Dr. Kalady says. “There are unique considerations for patients undergoing and recovering from surgery, and we needed to account for those needs in the building’s design to make the patient experience the best it could possibly be.”

Ease of collaboration in treatment was a key goal. For instance, even though there will be an outpatient facility with surgeries performed elsewhere, surgeons will have the necessary space and equipment to perform consults and diagnostic exams with patients on-site. In addition, surgeons will work together in close proximity with oncologists, radiation oncologists, social workers and other team members to more efficiently diagnose, monitor and treat patients.

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“Delivering optimum cancer care requires constant collaboration and communication between multiple team members,” Dr. Kalady says. “The new building provides a hub for streamlined patient care during preoperative diagnosis, as well as postoperative care, evaluation and recovery.”

For colorectal cancer patients in particular, the availability of sufficient privacy is an important measure in ensuring patients’ comfort. There are separate examination rooms in the new facility dedicated to performing endoscopy or flexible proctosigmoidoscopy procedures. A key improvement is that these exam rooms include lavatory facilities (before, patients would need to exit the exam room and use the lavatories located in the hall before the procedure).

“It’s sometimes the smallest of details that can improve patient experience the most,” Dr. Kalady says. “We kept this in mind when designing each aspect of the new building.”

Each of the examination rooms is also outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment which surgeons had a hand in selecting — advanced endoscopes and colonoscopes to best evaluate and diagnose patients with stomach or colorectal cancer, for example.

“All of the cancer specialists and necessary diagnostic imaging equipment will be housed in the new building, helping to further streamline patient care,” Dr. Kalady says.

Close collaboration for personalized patient care

Each disease group will have its own dedicated clinical practice floor, putting physicians just steps away from their patients. Exam rooms surround a meeting space where members of the multidisciplinary team — including surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, palliative care providers, oncology nurses and advanced practice providers — can discuss course of treatment for each patient.

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“With patients and doctors in one centralized location, it helps improve patient consults and therapeutic decisions through frequent communication between specialties,” Dr. Kalady says. “Having a physical workspace where colleagues are in close proximity for simultaneous case reviews, including radiology, pathology, surgery, hematology/oncology and radiation oncology, facilitates the best treatment plans.”

Patient input = better patient experience

In addition to having surgeons and clinicians involved in the new building’s design, there was also input from a special committee made up of current and former cancer patients who received treatment at Cleveland Clinic. Known as the Voice of the Patient Advisory Council (VPAC), the group meets periodically to discuss ideas and insights to enhance cancer care from a patient’s point of view.

Throughout the planning for the new cancer building, this group provided opinions on patient services, programs, equipment and treatment delivery. Surgeons and others used this feedback when assessing the new building design, and continue to collect and review VPAC feedback for considerations in future patient care decisions.

Photo Credit: @Russell Lee