Thanks to the work of students in an EMBA course at Indiana University Kelley School of Business, patients at Dr. Thomas Ciulla’s Indianapolis ophthalmology clinic will save more than 3,000 hours a year in wait times.
As part of an operations management course for the Business of Medicine Physician EMBA Program, Dr. Ciulla, MBA’15, created a practical project to reduce waste and enhance patient experiences.
He teamed up with fellow physician MBAs to undertake an important initiative: reduce wait times for patients in his clinic. In the end, the team slashed patient visit times by 18 percent without cutting valuable patient-provider contact time.
Dr. Ciulla admits he was skeptical when he enrolled in the MBA course. “On its face, operations seemed quite dry and inapplicable to my everyday work,” he says.
But that skepticism fell away, thanks to the project results. These benefits are “especially enormous when considered in the aggregate,” says Dr. Ciulla, who sees about 10,000 patient visits annually.
If similar approaches were implemented across entire health care systems, the “holy grail” of improved health care delivery could be achieved with little marginal cost, he says.
In July 2017, Dr. Ciulla published his findings in RETINA®, a leading peer-reviewed journal that focuses exclusively on vitreoretinal disorders.
“While this project is a textbook example from a manufacturing standpoint, it delivers new knowledge in Dr. Ciulla’s discipline and some other health care areas,” says Mohan Tatikonda, professor of operations management at the Kelley School. “That’s one reason this paper was accepted in such a prominent journal. Dr. Ciulla showed health care delivery can be improved significantly without major expense.”