Establishing a survivorship clinic within the outpatient oncology setting offers benefits for patients, health care providers, and health care organizations, according to a poster presentation at the 47th Annual Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Congress.
Greater efficacy of cancer treatments means patients once deemed terminal achieve remission and live long and meaningful lives. However, complications from cancer or cancer treatments may be lifelong for survivors. Often with no plan in place for their management, patients are referred back to their primary care providers (PCPs). However, most PCPs do not have expertise in managing these symptoms. “Nurse practitioners [NPs] are specialized in survivorship care and are strong symptom management providers,” explained Emily Lott, MSN, CRNP, OCN, CHPN, of Penn Medicine in Philadelphia.
A survivorship clinic would incur new costs such as competitive salaries to attract talented, well-trained NPs. But this cost is less than hiring more physicians. In addition, offsetting this would be the financial benefits of keeping patients in the same network for surveillance, medication refills, laboratory work, and preventive screening.
A collaborative sharing of patient care would give patients the opportunity to develop rapport with their care providers, improving patient satisfaction, which is increasingly important to pay-for-performance models. “With NPs seeing survivorship patients, physicians would be able to see new patients allowing for health care organization growth,” Lott stated during her presentation.
NPs also would work with interdisciplinary clinicians to promote and support quality of life care, including pain management, referrals to specialists, holistic practices, genetic testing/counseling, smoking cessation, and nutritional support.
Other benefits are a better understanding of their disease, individualized care plans that address any disparities, better symptom management, and prevention of emergency department visits. If signs of cancer recurrence should manifest, early detection would lead to better outcomes. Ultimately, “continuity of care for oncology patients would absolutely enhance the patient experience,” she explained.
Health care providers and the health care organization also would benefit. Health care providers will be more satisfied, as appropriate time is allocated for patient needs, and more satisfied patients lead to referrals within the health care organization, she concluded.
The goal is not to replace PCP management, but to provide an extra layer of support for cancer survivors.
Lott E. Survivorship clinic for outpatient oncology patients. Poster presented at: 47th Annual ONS Congress; April 27-May 1, 2022; Anaheim, California.
This article originally appeared on Oncology Nurse Advisor