Cancer is well described as a leading cause of morbidity and mortality nationwide in Australia. Additionally, there is a relationship between cancer prevalence and mortality and level of remoteness. Hospitals outside of Major Cities cannot provide every service that may be required by oncology patients, including access to particular medical investigations, interventions or clinical trials. Thus timely referral and efficient clinical handover between referring and accepting teams forms an important part of comprehensive patient care.
Regional centers aim to provide high quality cancer care to patients close to home. Referral practice and referral outcomes are an important element of facilitating access to services and care coordination.
Ballarat Health Service (BHS) is the principle referral hospital for Victoria’s Grampians Region, a catchment area of 48 000 square kilometers1 and a population of 230 000 people2.
Hypothesis and Aims: The purpose of this study is to document the number and nature of referrals to other hospitals for oncology patients. We aim to elucidate referral factors that impact on patient outcomes.
Methods and Results:
This is a prospective audit including all patients who have been referred from BHS to various hospitals across Victoria in 2018. Patient demographics, referral date, referral institution, referral reason, response date, form of correspondence and patient outcome were collected and compared.
Final results of the data analysis are currently underway.
We aim to elucidate referral factors that impact on patient outcomes. We hope this information will help enhance referral practices to improve access of country patients to services readily available to patients residing in major cities, thus reducing the impact of remoteness on morbidity and mortality in these patients.