The Association of Community Cancer Centers has released a study of the methods and quality of cancer patients transitions from the hospital inpatient setting to the outpatient oncology group.
The study found that although some community cancer programs have developed innovative ways to manage various aspects of the transition process, room exists for improvements in specific policies and practices for managing cancer patients transitions between care settings.
The ACCC examined components of the care transition, including the adequacy and completeness of the medical record, medication reconciliation and communication among providers, according to a news release.
Our goal was to understand the challenges involved in transitioning patients between settings and to identify best practices for ensuring a smooth transition, ACCC President Al B. Benson III, MD, FACP, said in the news release.
In the study, few hospitals monitored readmissions or followed up with discharged patients. Only 3% of hospitals in the survey had an oncology-specific transition policy, and only 15% had a transition checklist. Some organizations had general transition programs in place, but few used survey and measurement tools to analyze those processes for quality improvement.
According to the report, the overall transition challenge is to identify and manage patient and family needs at a time and place in which neither the hospital nor the oncology group has control.
Positive developments include substantial progress in introducing EHR and computerized physician order entry systems into both hospitals and oncology practices. Those systems have improved medication reconciliation and community oncologists access to relevant medical records for recently hospitalized patients.