Surgical Path Cards Improve Wait Times, Patient Satisfaction


An oncology nurse explains how her institution created a surgical path card that improved wait times and patient satisfaction in adults undergoing cancer surgery.

The creation and implementation of a surgical path card led to a higher percentage of patients arriving on time for their cancer surgeries, while also decreasing wait times and improving patient satisfaction, according to research presented at the 49th Annual ONS Congress.

“We knew that once we implemented this, our patients would be able to look at this 1 sheet, put it on your refrigerator, put it by the door before you're leaving the day of surgery,” study author, Michelle H. Johann, DNP, RN, PHN, CPAN, WTA, a clinical practice educational specialist at City of Hope in Duarte, California, said in an interview with Oncology Nursing News. “Now they have something that they can physically hold on to and say, ‘OK, this is where I'm going to go.’”

Johann and her team focused on concerns that patients and their families expressed, such as navigating the cancer center campus and understanding the presurgical process. So, the surgical path card—which is a half-sheet, colorful, and laminated paper, intended to stand out from the other paperwork that patient receive—includes a map of the campus, step-by-step process, and a QR code that directs the patient to a short video depicting the information on the card.

“I wanted to start with the patient input and where their concerns lie. And I wanted to make sure that I developed a process in which we can circumvent and make it a more pleasurable experience, a calming experience. We wanted them to know that we are patient centered, which meant that everything that we're going to develop is specifically for you…and your family members,” Johann said.

The card was tested on 50 adults with cancer who were scheduled for surgery. After implementation, Johann and her team observed that the percentage of patients who were on time for their surgery increased from 30% to 38.65%. Further, the patient wait time decreased from 15 minutes to 12.3 minutes, and patient satisfaction improved from 97.58%, per Press Ganey Q2 2022 data, to 98.24%, based on Press Ganey Q3 2023 data.

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