In personalized medicine, patient lifecycles get spread across multiple physical locations for consultations, sample collection, administration, analysis, and post-treatment monitoring. Each stage in the lifecycle also involves time-constrained human resources and medical equipment, exam rooms, clean rooms, and operating rooms. Complicated manufacturing, shipping, and operational processes also run in the background.
Scheduling these dependencies to run at clinically exact standards isn’t only a challenge, but an ethical duty.
This is also a time when patients are at their most vulnerable state. When the patient lifecycle is perfectly executed, life-saving medicines arrive on time. Patients may be subjected to multiple sample collections, incorrect treatments, and adverse health outcomes if they aren’t.
Fixing healthcare’s most perplexing journey is no easy task, but automated scheduling platforms can help. Here are seven tips to make cell and gene therapy (CGT) scheduling less complicated, more reliable, and more automated.
1. Patient scheduling must be intuitive for the treatment center coordinator (TCC)
While nobody questions the importance of consumer UX, end-user UX is often neglected. Ignorning the experience of treatment center coordinators in the context of CGT is a leading contributor to referral leakage, poor patient experiences, and failed treatments.
Here are features every CGT scheduling system needs:
- Transparent workflows that guide TCCs through enrollment, qualification, pre-authorization, and scheduling
- Optical character recognition (OCR) technology to automate and quicken data entry during enrollment
- A single screen to schedule all necessary time “slots” – from sample collection, to manufacturing, to infusion. It should be easy to see all time slots in the context of the following steps, dependencies, and more.
2. Schedules created by a treatment center coordinator must be immediately reviewed
Once the TCC submits a patient schedule, time is of the essence. Manufacturing capacity, patient schedules, and clinical availability for infusion are always subject to change if there are significant time lapses between scheduling and approval.
The system should also ensure that TCC-submitted requests are only ‘soft booked.’ This means that while the care coordinator always has the ability to revise scheduling details, multiple patients won’t be able to double- or over-book the same slot before official approval.
3. CGT Scheduling platforms must automate lead times between collection, manufacturing, and infusion
There are always lead times between the critical steps of sample collection, manufacturing, and infusion.
Any deviation in lead time can disrupt the entire patient’s therapy journey. CGT scheduling platforms must estimate lead time based on the medication type, current manufacturing capacity, and other factors that affect timing. They also need to be subject to configurable business rules that help automate lead time calcuation based on a variety scenarios.
4. CGT Scheduling systems must integrate into a CMO or internal manufacturing platform
The scheduling platform must consistently present an accurate account of available manufacturing slots. This makes it possible for the treatment center coordinator to balance internal staff, equipment, and resource schedules with the patient’s availability.
5. Scheduling systems must integrate with major couriers
Shipping logistics are crucial to keeping treatments on time. By integrating directly with healthcare-focused couriers like QuickStat, the therapy lifecycle can be predicted more accurately and revised with more insight.
6. Bottlenecks must be constantly predicted, identified, and solved with actionable next steps
Most problems can be resolved before they happen. With the predictive AI available in most enterprise systems, supply chain issues, shipping delays, or other disruptions can be detected. Based on pre-configured workflows, treatment plans can be modified in real-time to ensure the patient’s therapy journey continues smoothly.
7. Unified visibility must exist across clinical teams, manufacturing centers, and patients.
Everyone involved in the patient’s journey needs visibility into the information that matters to them. Therapy coordinators, care coordinators, and manufacturers must understand the whole care timeline. This can be achieved through authenticated portals with user roles and communication systems that deliver alerts as patients are scheduled, medications are shipped, appointments are changed, or manufacturing capacity shifts.