Preventing a trip to hospital
Symptom urgent review clinics
Demand for services that deliver systemic anti-cancer therapy (SACT) is increasing. The number of SACT episodes of service in Victoria has grown in recent years in both the public and private sectors. There is an increasing trend for SACT to be administered in the ambulatory environment, shifting the burden of managing treatment-related toxicities to the patient, carers and primary care providers. Patients are often unaware of the significance of their side effects and lack the confidence to manage their symptoms at home, resulting in unplanned emergency department presentations for many patients experiencing treatment-related side effects.
Several symptom urgent response clinics (SURCs) have been implemented across Victoria’s public hospitals in metropolitan and regional areas. Implementation of these clinics has shown high rates of patient participation in the SURC model of care, a reduction in emergency presentations, improved patient satisfaction throughout treatment and favourable clinician support. SMICS has provided over $300,000 in grant funding to establish SURCs at Alfred Health, Peninsula Health and Cabrini Health.
The COVID-19 pandemic has required rapid adjustment in health service delivery. In response to the pandemic, SMICS supported our member health services to rapidly incorporate telehealth into oncology service delivery models. Utilising telehealth services has ensured continuity of high-quality cancer care throughout the pandemic while protecting vulnerable patients and healthcare workers.
Although some health services had established telehealth systems, they were not widely utilised by oncology services until the introduction of a new MBS billing code in April 2020. SMICS has supported Alfred Health, Monash Health and Peninsula Health to rapidly adopt telehealth during this time by rescheduling more than 300 outpatient appointments, providing patient education on accessing HealthDirect, refining telehealth procedures in oncology clinics and collating information resources to assist patients and carers to participate in telehealth.
SMICS is also supporting a statewide telehealth mapping exercise to inform and enhance the use of telehealth in cancer care.
Chemo in the Home
As part of its COVID support effort, SMICS helped established the Chemo in the Home program, operated by Cabrini Health. The model reduces risk to often immunocompromised patients by avoiding the need to leave home to attend treatment in a day oncology clinic.
SMICS supported Cabrini Health by assisting with project planning, service mapping and in revising forms to be used as part of the program. Patients have already begun participating in this new initiative, and it is anticipated that up to 10 patients per week will benefit from this new service.