BC Children’s Hospital (BCCH) used innovative Design Thinking Methodology (DTM, 4) to reimagine and co-design a pre-admission process to prepare children and family for surgery. BCCH Surgical Services runs a Pre-anesthetic Assessment Clinic (PAC) to ensure that children are medically fit for surgery. As this is a surgeon referral process, only 9% of families were being referred to this service. Preparing a child and family medically, psychologically and emotionally for the child’s surgery is vital to reducing child and family stress and anxiety by building a therapeutic relationship; supporting postoperative recovery, increasing patient safety and creating efficiency on the day of the procedure.

There was an opportunity to improve how effectively families are prepared for surgery by redefining what it means to be prepared, as described by the patients and families. BCCH Surgical Services applied Design Thinking (DT) to put patient experience at the forefront of quality improvement. As DT is a person-centred problem-solving approach, it’s well-suited to understanding patient’s experiences, co-design, and quality improvement in health care.

We identified two main goals: reduce anxiety on the day of surgery and increase patient satisfaction by pre-screening and assessing all families undergoing dental surgery. Families and staff shared ideas that were integrated into our new process: calling families 1-2 weeks pre-surgery, an online pre-screening questionnaire, co-creating a care plan for day of surgery and accompanying parents to and from the operating room. The new process has decreased family reported levels of anxiety by 13% and increased patient reported satisfaction by 6%.

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