Custom Google Maps app cuts patient travel times for IR by 28 minutes

In a world of increasingly personalized care, patients want top treatment with minimal travel. A team of New York researchers created a custom Google Maps app that determined the quickest route for patients seeking an appointment for interventional radiology (IR) services.

A team from the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York realized many of its patients struggled to determine where to schedule procedures. Some preferred a location with minimal travel time, while others favored a shorter travel distance—often the two were unrelated, according to the study published online Feb. 20 in the Journal of Digital Imaging.

“Due to the heavy traffic conditions inherent to our catchment area, the site closest in distance to a patient’s home is not always the site that can be traveled to the fastest. This realization offers a new look at how transportation, an already widely acknowledged barrier to healthcare, can negatively impact the provision of IR services,” wrote corresponding author Jacob. E. Mandel, with the department of radiology at Memorial Sloan Kettering, and colleagues.

In this study, an in-house Google Maps application was used to determine estimated travel time (ETT) and estimated travel distance (ETD) to the optimal IR site in 33 cities within the multi-hospital institution’s “catchment area.” The area extends throughout New York and into parts of New Jersey.

The app used hypothetical patients traveling from each city along with real-time traffic conditions.

In 10 of 33 cities, there was no match between the optimal IR site based on estimated travel time and optimal IR site based on ETD.

When choosing to travel to an IR site based on ETT rather than ETD, patients were predicted to save 7.29 minutes during non-rush hour, and 28.80 minutes during rush hour.

“Using a custom Google Maps application to schedule outpatients for procedures can effectively reduce patient travel time when more than one location providing IR procedures is available within the same hospital system,” wrote Mandel et al. “Hospital systems should consider using custom mapping applications when scheduling outpatients in order to provide optimized and personalized care.”