24-hour support for cancer patients can make a huge difference, but is it feasible? One cancer center explains how they did it.

Stephanie GingerPatient Relationship Management, Value-based Care

Our team recently returned from the Association of Community Cancer Centers’ National Oncology Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. The conference’s sessions covered a wide range of topics, many familiar for practices who have been navigating the best path forward in value-based care over the past couple of years. Several cancer care providers shared lessons learned about what they are doing to succeed in the current healthcare landscape – succeeding in OCM, managing and tracking medication adherence, the implications on immunotherapy for patient care and much more.

One session presented by Tina Curtis of Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Clinical Cancer Center was titled “Right Place, Right Provider, Right Time: Implementing Our 24-Hour Cancer Clinic.” During her presentation she shared the conception, development and implementation of a very successful clinic that is keeping patients out of the emergency department when possible, lowering costs for patients and reducing resource use by providers at the Froedtert Hospital Campus. [Read more at ACCC’s website]

The Advantages of a 24-Hour Clinic

By securing two rooms on the inpatient floor in the Center for Advanced Care (a separate building from the cancer clinic) they were able to set up a dedicated space modeled after an infusion room. This offered a few advantages. Any intervention delivered by the cancer clinic’s staff could be billed at the outpatient rates, saving the patient money. Also, since the team evaluating the patient was very familiar with the patient’s particular situation and treatment regimen, resource use decreased as well as ED visits and hospital admissions. And since the 24-hour clinic was collocated, if the patient did need emergency services or to be admitted to the hospital, it was a matter of taking the patient to another part of the same building – creating a seamless continuity of care.

Overcoming Challenges

The presenter did acknowledge challenges – securing the space that could be otherwise used for inpatient care, including teaching patients to call their care team before going to the emergency room and convincing physicians that it was needed. But their collection of data and analysis has turned many into believers. For oncologists, one thing that changed their minds was seeing the number of unnecessary tests being ordered in the emergency department and for administrators it was seeing the reduction in costs and the increase in patient satisfaction.

Key Takeaways

While not every practice has access to this level of added resources, we have seen practices leverage Navigating Cancer’s Patient Relationship Management to provide a very high level of care coordination 24 hours a day. This session was a good reminder of how continuity of care every day can make a difference for patients and practices. We have heard this sentiment often from practices using our platform. When a patient calls or contacts the care team, the nurse or social worker or scheduler will be able to quickly look at the shared workboard to see what’s been happening with that patient. For example, if a patient accessed the after hours care team overnight, the triage nurse will know first thing in the morning and will be able to intervene if needed. If collocation with a hospital is not viable, there are still some valuable takeaways from the experience at Froedtert:

  • Make sure patients know what to do between appointments if they have an issue
  • Reserve time each day for same day appointments
  • Dedicate staff where possible so they are familiar with the unique situation of each patients
  • Look at ED and hospital data if possible to see what types of incidents are ending up in hospital admissions and what you can do to prevent those that are not needed

Not sure where to start? We are working with innovative practices every day that are providing this type of comprehensive care – we can share what we we’ve learned and how we can help. Contact Navigating Cancer for a demo today!