Aim: Austin Health is completing a Lung Cancer Service Redesign Project, a 12 month project funded by the North Eastern Melbourne Integrated Cancer Services (NEMICS) to improve the timeliness of care from referral to commencement of treatment. Austin Health is a tertiary public teaching hospital, which sees approximately 230 lung cancer patients per year, the largest lung cancer service in Victoria. This service includes a multidisciplinary clinic, multidisciplinary team meeting and has all diagnostic and treatment modalities available.
Consumer feedback has identified the need for a single point of contact and clinicians requested the implementation of a lung coordinator role to assist with the complex coordination needs of care for this patient cohort. This aspect of the Redesign project aimed to better understand the care coordination needs of lung cancer patients at this health service, identify which aspects are currently being provided and identify any remaining gaps, in order to inform a position description and business case for a lung coordinator role.
Method: The Optimal Care Pathway (OCP) for People with Lung Cancer, endorsed by the National Cancer Expert Reference Group (NCERG), was used as a framework to assess the specific care coordination requirements during each stage of the patient’s cancer journey at this institution. Clinicians, consumers, diagnostic and support services were consulted.
Results: The gap analysis demonstrated that there were some elements of good care coordination in place for lung cancer patients, but these were mainly met once treatment commenced. A significant gap in patient care coordination exists during the earlier stages of the OCP, particularly around the point of receipt of referral and diagnostic work up.
Conclusion: The OCPs are an effective framework to evaluate the care coordination requirements for patients along their cancer journey at an individual health service. The results of this gap analysis are currently being used to guide the development of a business case for a lung coordinator role at Austin Health, to improve the patient experience and timeliness of care.