Patients with cancer should report symptoms related to treatment, but many patients not actively being treated for disease present to oncology clinics for care that could be managed in other settings. These nonessential visits may lead to lessened appointment availability for patients with essential issues related to disease and treatment. In an outpatient breast cancer clinic, a quality improvement initiative was implemented to decrease the number of nonessential patient encounters and to increase the number of essential encounters. This intervention involved creating and implementing a triage protocol used by nursing staff to designate appropriate levels of care. Findings suggest that doing so can optimize workflow and improve patient access to essential disease- and treatment- related care.
AT A GLANCE
- Patients with cancer often present to oncology clinics with primary care issues that are best managed in other settings.
- A triage protocol for scheduling patients with essential healthcare issues and referring patients with nonessential issues to an appropriate setting has resulted in improved healthcare access.
- Implementation of a triage protocol can occur in other populations and may result in improved clinic workflow.