PHOENIX – By starting supportive measures early in the care of cancer patients undergoing curative treatment, a cancer center cut costs, emergency department visits, and admissions, a researcher said at symposium on quality care sponsored by the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
The supportive care pathway resulted in double-digit decreases in admissions and an opportunity cost savings of $1,500 per patient, reported, MBA, of Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute, Christiana Care Health System, Newark, Del.
Although satisfaction hasn’t been measured yet, anecdotal reports suggest the patient experience has improved because of the multidisciplinary program, which included mandatory supportive care screening and enhancements to computer systems, said Dr. Koprowski, who is director of quality and safety at the cancer center.
“From all outward signs, the patients are extraordinarily grateful in this program,” Dr. Koprowski said in an interview. “I just had one who said that being seen at the same time by all these people just makes things so much easier.”
The Supportive Care of Oncology Patients () clinical pathway, introduced in November 2016, includes palliative and supportive care service screening that occurs during the multidisciplinary visit. The pathway incorporates a checklist integrated into a nurse navigator information system to support care standardization, according to Dr. Koprowski.
Also added were “flags” in the inpatient information system that trigger alerts to navigators, oncologists, and the supportive care service whenever a patient in the SCOOP pathway is admitted, discharged, or seen in the emergency room, he said.
Enrollment in SCOOP was limited to lung, esophageal, head and neck, and colorectal cancer patients receiving concurrent radiation and chemotherapy. Out of approximately 200 eligible patients in the first year, about half entered the clinical pathway, according to Dr. Koprowski.
For that first year, 32% of SCOOP patients had ED visits, compared with 54% of combined modality patients who did not enter the pathway, Dr. Koprowski reported.
Similarly, admissions were 25% for the SCOOP patients and 34% of non-SCOOP patients, and readmissions were seen in 20% versus 32% of those groups, respectively.
These findings are much like what has been seen when early supportive care is introduced in patients with more advanced disease, according to Dr. Koprowski.
He said the SCOOP program was partly inspired by a study in theshowing that patients with advanced non–small cell lung cancer who received early palliative care had longer survival despite less-aggressive care, including reduced use of chemotherapy, at the end of life.
“Early-stage patients aren’t that much different if they are being treated very aggressively with combined modality chemotherapy and radiation,” he said. “The treatment is very, very tough on people.”
Dr. Koprowski and his coinvestigators had no relationships to disclose relevant to the research presented at the ASCO symposium.
SOURCE: Koprowski CD et al. 2018 ASCO Quality Care Symposium, .