Sonali M. Smith, MD, FASCO, the Elwood V. Jensen Professor in Medicine, Interim Chief of Hematology/Oncology, and Director of the Lymphoma Program at the University of Chicago Medical Center, told The ASCO Post that communication between the patient and the caregiving team has become increasingly important as cancer care shifts to the outpatient setting.
“If there are gaps in care or if patients don’t know what to do, their default is going to be to go to the emergency department,” Dr. Smith explained. “It’s obviously very important for quality of life and quality of care to reduce trips to the emergency department that could be handled with a better communication tool.”
In an ideal world, Dr. Smith continued, every patient would benefit from an intensive initiative like the “Call Us First Campaign.” It’s also the job description of a nurse navigator. “In my world, whenever I’ve had a phenomenal nurse navigator, my patients never come to the emergency department,” she shared. “Without one, on the other hand, patients are more likely to do so.”
Sonali M. Smith, MD, FASCO
Although it’s clear that massive outreach and communication can reduce unplanned care, said Dr. Smith, not all institutions have the luxury of sufficient nursing support. “It’s expensive to have a team that does this kind of outreach,” she said. “I think this abstract could be enhanced by identifying the potential cost savings.”
‘Exciting Area of Research’
According to Dr. Smith, machine learning is an exciting area of research, but more information is needed with respect to emergency department utilization. “If automated systems are able to perform comparably to a well-versed clinician in identifying high-risk patients for more in-home services, that is very promising,” said Dr. Smith. “However, I’m surprised that the number of patients identified was relatively low, both by the nurse practitioner as well as the tool.”
DISCLOSURE: Dr. Smith has served as a consultant or advisor to AbbVie/Genentech, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Bristol Myers Squibb, Celgene, Gilead Sciences, Kite Pharma, Pharmacyclics, Portola Pharmaceuticals, Seattle Genetics, and TG Therapeutics and has received research funding from Acerta Pharma/AstraZeneca, Celgene, and Pharmacyclics/Janssen.
Identifying patients at risk for adverse outcomes and intervening with intensive clinical services may improve cancer care while saving billions of dollars in avoidable emergency department (ED) visits. And, in fact, cancer centers may already have all the information they need to do so, according...