New multidisciplinary clinic improves wait times for lung cancer patients

June 5, 2017

A new multidisciplinary clinic for lung patients enables patients to meet with specialists and discuss their treatment plan immediately after receiving a confirmed cancer diagnosis. 

Learning that you have cancer and then waiting to hear about a treatment plan is a period of time fraught with anxiety and questions for many patients. However, a new multidisciplinary clinic for lung patients is working to eliminate that waiting period.

As part of the lung diagnostic assessment program (LDAP), the multidisciplinary clinic enables respirology patients who have a confirmed or strongly suspected case of lung cancer to meet with their specialist immediately following their cancer diagnosis.

“We heard from patient experience advisors that when a patient is told that they have a positive lung cancer diagnosis and then have to wait to meet with their specialists they are often scared and have many questions about what the next steps are for them,” said Dr. Genèvieve Digby, a physician with Kingston Health Sciences Centre and co-lead of the multidisciplinary clinic. “Having this clinic means that patients don’t have to wait to meet their specialist and can begin the conversation immediately following a cancer diagnosis on what their treatment plan will be.”

Prior to the clinic beginning, when a patient received a positive cancer diagnosis they would need to wait for a subsequent visit to the South East Cancer Centre at a later date to meet their specialist and then begin discussions on their treatment plan. Now, this clinic has reduced the median wait time from referral to Oncology assessment from 13 days to none and saves the patient a trip to the Cancer Centre for the discussion on next steps.

 “In addition to helping reduce anxiety and wait times for our patients, there is also a huge staff benefit involved with this clinic,” said Dr. Andrew Robinson, physician with Kingston Health Sciences Centre and co-lead of the multidisciplinary clinic. “This clinic enables colleagues to make care plans together resulting in more efficient decision-making, further encourages our team concept of care and can reduce unnecessary or duplicate tests, which can positively reduce workload for physicians. It is a great example of how we can work together to create an effective and efficient health care system.”

Based out of Hotel Dieu Hospital in Kingston, ON, the multidisciplinary clinic began as a pilot to measure how this type of clinic set-up could help reduce treatment delays, improve efficiency and assess feasibility for a larger scale clinic.

Early feedback from patients supports that this clinic is on the right track.

“We’ve heard lots of positive feedback from patients who have gone through this clinic and felt that it was a good experience for them,” said Dr. Digby. “One patient shared that he felt he received the right amount of information needed at that moment in time and that he would hope all patients were able to have the same experience that he was fortunate to receive from this clinic setup.”

Recently, the multidisciplinary clinic received funding to extend their work on helping to improve the experience of patients with lung cancer. This funding will support further research into the impacts of this clinic on the patient and caregiver experience, assess for improved outcomes and resource utilization and measure the efficiencies found through the clinic.

“We’re onto a good start with this clinic and are happy to see how it’s helped patients in their experience and helped with smoother transitions,” said Dr. Robinson. “As we continue to move it forward we want to grow our team concept of care and expand on the multidisciplinary nature of this clinic by having additional specialties and disciplines involved.”

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