When cancer patients in treatment experience side effects and seek care at local emergency departments, their oncologists may only find out afterward—if at all. Obtaining the treatment information that results from ED visits has historically been difficult. To better track their patients’ care, Tennessee Oncology—ACCC Innovator Award winner—has partnered with an IT vendor to customize and implement a portal and database that sends oncology providers real-time notifications when a patient presents at an ED or is admitted to a hospital.
By W. Charles Penley, MD
Like many of today’s young oncologists, in the early 1990s I was focused on building my practice, raising young children, and becoming a member of a community outside of medicine. At that point, I had not yet focused on organized medicine at all. It seemed distant and separate from my work—something that other doctors engaged in when confronted by larger issues in society and healthcare.
But about that same time, oncologists in Tennessee were faced with a Medicare carrier policy that would severely limit reimbursement for in-office-administered chemotherapeutic agents. This policy threatened the viability of our practices and our ability to care for our patients in outpatient or office settings.
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