Many Belgian hospitals nowadays are faced with the challenge of ensuring optimum care for their patients while at the same time being confronted with a growing need for efficiency. In the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire (CHU) in Liège, an innovative system has been put into place that succeeds in improving efficiency as well as enhancing comfort for daycare patients.
Professor Christophe Bonnet works as a hematologist at CHU, and nurse Françoise Franchi heads the nursing staff at the ‘Hôpital du Jour’, the daycare hospital. They gladly share their experiences. “We put a system into place, called ‘Ultra-Genda’, that greatly improves efficiency in the usage of our available beds”, Professor Bonnet explains. “The system is basically geared towards getting the optimum use out of each of the 20 daycare beds the CHU currently operates. In the traditional situation two patients per bed could be treated every day, but thanks to drastic efficiency measures the CHU can now treat up to 80 daycare patients per day without having to add new beds. As far as we know, our system is pretty unique for Belgium.”
Another action taken is the check of the patient’s biology before he or she comes in for the daycare chemotherapeutic treatment. This is done by specialized nurses who visit the patients in their own homes prior to their treatment date. “By testing the blood first in our own hematology lab, we can prepare the correct chemotherapy and have it ready by the time the patient arrives”, onco-nurse Franchi explains. “In the previous situation, the patient had to wait for two hours before receiving chemotherapy, but now he or she can start the treatment within minutes.” “The Ultra-Genda system that we developed is really quite exceptional. Thanks to doing part of the work beforehand, we save ourselves and our patients a lot of time. That is a truly innovative approach by the CHU”, Professor Bonnet concludes. He foresees that in the future oncological daycare can even partly take place at home, with specialized onco-nurses visiting the patients and administering the medicines.
“The CHU in Liège is a hospital that serves a very large rural area and often patients need to travel for quite a long way to reach the hospital. Being able to treat patients at home by a specialized care staff is of great importance to the CHU of Liège. Treatment at home depends on which type of chemo is used. At the moment, this is the case for some anticancer drugs: in these cases, the first injection of each cycle takes place at the hospital and the others are administered at home. We hope that in future more drugs can be administered at home also.”
Everything that involves cancer in the same building
Presently, the CHU is in the process of building the CIO, the Centre Intégré d’Oncologie (integrated oncology center), right next to the existing CHU hospital in the Liège suburb of Sart-Tilman. A brand-new, state-of-the-art building is currently being finished internally and is expected to become operational in the course of 2020. “Everything that involves cancer will be clustered in this building”, says Professor Bonnet. “Not only hospital care, but also labs, imaging and clinical research. Everything will be so much easier and more efficient; we will be able to ensure much better care or cancer patients than before.” “We will have mostly all single patient rooms”, nurse Franchi adds, “and even special spaces for children.”
More face-to-face time with patients thanks to innovations
The future of oncological daycare looks bright in Liège, but Professor Bonnet does have reservations about certain innovations. “It is now very fashionable to use of computer programs, Apps and so on and there are lots of initiatives. Of course, these inventions can save a lot of time. But they will never be able to replace the face-to-face time you actually spend listening to a patient. It is great that apps can save us a lot of time, as long as that saved time is put back into talking to the patients.”
Center for Integrated Oncology: everything under one roof
The new CIO next door to the CHU will combine two laboratory floors and an integrated oncology center in the same building. The oncology center will house the technical facilities used for radiotherapy (five new bunkers), nuclear medicine and radiotherapy, along with a radiopharmacy. There are also floors for consultations, daycare and clinical and translational research. The two lab floors are organized around an innovative laboratory and will include a variety of disciplines such as pathology, genetics, clinical chemistry, microbiology, molecular biology, toxicology, hematology and thrombosis/hemostasis, as well as a large blood bank. The CIO will house a complete range of services for the cancer patient. They include seven categories of psychosocial partners, such as social workers, physiotherapists, dieticians, psychologists and specially trained beauticians. The CIO will also house a wellness center where adjuvant services are offered, such as rehab training, relaxation and ergotherapy.