Same-Day Radiation Oncology Consults Improve Access to Care

The study covered in this summary was published on researchsquare.com as a preprint and has not yet been peer reviewed.

Key Takeaway

  • There are fewer no-shows and more timely care when patients are offered the option of scheduling same-day appointments for radiation oncology consultations.

Why This Matters

  • Early cancer treatment improves outcomes, but a lack of available and/or convenient appointments sometimes gets in the way.

  • The current study demonstrates it’s possible to improve convenience by offering patients same-day appointments without requiring more resources from the radiation oncology department.

Study Design

  • A University of California, Irvine, team launched a pilot project in March 2021 to offer same-day radiation oncology consultations to outpatients with prior insurance authorization.

  • The project did not require new appointment slots or additional staff, space, or spending.

  • Referrals were collected the night before, and patients were called in the morning and offered an afternoon appointment.

  • Cases were allocated to one of four physicians on the basis of their availability.

  • Medical information was gathered a few hours before the appointment and reviewed just before or during the encounter.

Key Results

  • Among 2107 patients scheduled, 316 (15%) opted for same-day appointments.

  • Same-day access increased the number of patients seen within 5 days of referral from 23% to 58% (P < .001).

  • The median time from referral to consult fell from 11 days before the project to 3 days after it was launched.

  • The no-show rate fell from 11% to 5%.

  • Black, Hispanic, and Asian patients were significantly more likely than were White patients to use same-day access.

  • The pilot has been extended indefinitely because of its popularity with physicians and patients.

  • Patients said that they had less stress and anxiety when they could see their physician the same day.

Limitations

Disclosures

  • There was no funding reported for the work, and the investigators didn’t report any disclosures.

This is a summary of a preprint research study, “Development of a Same Day Access Initiative in Radiation Oncology: Preliminary Findings from a Prospective Pilot,” led by Allen Chen of the University of California, Irvine, provided to you by Medscape. The study has not been peer reviewed. The full text can be found at researchsquare.com.

M. Alexander Otto is a physician assistant with a master’s degree in medical science and a journalism degree from Newhouse. He is an award-winning medical journalist who has worked for several major news outlets before joining Medscape and also an MIT Knight Science Journalism fellow. Email: [email protected]

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