Lean Lobectomy: Streamlining Video-Assisted Lobectomy to Increase the Value of Lung Cancer Care

Lung Cancer

Yeo JH, et al. JCO Oncol Pract 2020.


PURPOSE: A review of the outcomes of patients who received our video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) lung lobectomy in 2015 revealed long lengths of stay, inefficient care transitions, and overuse of resources. Focused process redesign offers a proven method for instituting improvement and changes in health care. We sought to use systems process improvement to streamline VATS lobectomies at our institution, and we targeted cost drivers to optimize quality of care and minimize overuse of resources.

METHODS: We performed a retrospective review of perioperative practices between January 2015 and March 2016 for patients undergoing VATS lobectomy that helped establish a value stream map, used a granular cost database, and performed real-time analysis. We used an outcomes database, which allowed us to identify cost drivers, practice variability, and rent seeking. We implemented process redesign with constant review and formal value stream reanalysis at 6-month intervals over a 2-year period.

RESULTS: We ultimately experienced an overall 187% reduction of time in the operating room (297 v 159 minutes). Our process redesign also resulted in significantly fewer chest x-rays per patient (mean, 6.7 v 2), laboratory draws (100% v 5.7%), and consultations (100% v 5.7%), which resulted in a 234% reduction in mean length of stay (4.4 v 1.88 days) and an overall cost reduction of 40%. These changes did not have a detrimental effect on patient outcomes: pulmonary complications (16.9% v 8.6%), cardiac complications (13.2% v 8.6%), and readmission rates (13.6% v 2.9%) all decreased.

CONCLUSION: By using value stream analysis and process redesign methodologies, closely paired with highly granular cost and outcomes data, we were able to achieve significant improvements in patient outcomes and use of resources.