The diagnostic testing center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago is an outpatient laboratory that is kept perennially busy serving the needs of the community. Thousands of walk-in patients are seen each year, primarily for blood tests (phlebotomy) and electrocardiograms (EKGs).
Although Northwestern receives acclaim for its patient care, some complaints had begun to surface regarding the amount of time patients were waiting to be seen in the diagnostic testing center. A high degree of variability in wait times, ranging from 30 to 60 minutes during peak patient volume, was causing unpredictability and dissatisfaction from both patients and physicians. To improve service quality and raise satisfaction ratings, the staff began to seek solutions to this problem.