Timely access to specialist medical oncology services closer to home for rural patients: experience from the Townsville Teleoncology Model

Sabesan, Sabe, Roberts, Lynden J., Aitken, Peter, Joshi, Abhishek, and Larkins, Sarah (2014) Timely access to specialist medical oncology services closer to home for rural patients: experience from the Townsville Teleoncology Model. Australian Journal of Rural Health, 22 (4). pp. 156-159.

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Abstract

Problem: Prior to 2009, the teleoncology model of the Townsville Cancer Centre (TCC) did not achieve its aims of equal waiting times for rural and urban patients and the provision of reliable, local acute cancer care. From 2007–2009, 60 new patients from Mt Isa travelled to TCC for their first consultation and their first dose of chemotherapy. Six of these patients required inter-hospital transfers and eight required urgent flights to attend outpatient clinics. Only 50% these rural patients (n = 30) were reviewed within one week of their referral, compared with 90% of Townsville patients.

Design: A descriptive study.

Setting: TCC provides teleoncology services to 21 rural towns; the largest is Mt Isa, Qld.

Key measures for improvement: Specialist review of 90% of urgent cases within 24 hours, and 90% of non-urgent cases within one week of referral via videoconferencing. A 50% reduction in inpatient inter-hospital transfers from Mt Isa to Townsville.

Strategies for change: Employment of a half-time medical officer and a half-time cancer care coordinator, and implementation of new policies.

Effects of change: Between 2009 and 2011, TCC provided cancer care to 70 new patients from Mt Isa. Of these new patients, 93% (65/70) were seen within one week of referral. All 17 patients requiring urgent reviews were seen within 24 hours of referral and managed locally thus eliminating the need for inpatient inter-hospital transfers.

Lessons learnt: Provision of timely acute cancer care closer to home requires an increase in the rural case complexity and human resources.

Item ID: 34183
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1440-1584
Keywords: health service models; new models and frameworks; rural; telehealth; telemedicine
Additional Information:

Author's name (Aitken) mispelt on paper.

Date Deposited: 02 Sep 2014 02:24
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111717 Primary Health Care @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9205 Specific Population Health (excl. Indigenous Health) > 920506 Rural Health @ 100%
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