In a first of its kind for South Australia, improving the healthcare experience for newly diagnosed cancer patients and their families is the focus of a new program being trialed at Flinders Medical Centre.
The Hospital Research Foundation Group is funding the program, called ‘iSCREEN’ and led by Professor Bogda Koczwara from the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer, to improve patients’ cancer experience and associated healthcare outcomes.
The program will bring South Australia in line with other states and countries which take a systematic approach to managing cancer patients’ needs.
“A cancer diagnosis can be a challenging and stressful time for many patients and their families,” Prof Koczwara said.
“Not only does it present questions around mortality and quality of life, but it throws up many difficulties around navigating the health system and managing a loved one’s care.”
Through iSCREEN, Prof Koczwara plans to implement an online tool to screen cancer patients and identify gaps in their care which need to be addressed.
“Despite a high burden of distress and unmet needs in patients diagnosed with cancer, a systematic approach to this type of screening has not yet been adopted anywhere in South Australia.
“Our research will assess the feasibility of systematic screening for distress and unmet needs and, through identifying unmet needs, begin to develop evidence-based clinical pathways and referral pathways to meet the needs of cancer patients.”
The tool will be initially trialled for cancer patients at Flinders Medical Centre, however the study will provide important data enabling it to be adopted in other hospitals.
The program will be similar to a model being trialled in New South Wales, which is showing positive initial results to not only patient care, but reducing the burden on the healthcare system.
“Our research will have direct clinical benefits by improving the experience of cancer, plus we also predict the early intervention may reduce demand on emergency services so in fact reduce the cost of care delivery,” Prof Koczwara said.