Oncology is not likely to pop up on a list of specialties formerly pursued by urgent care clinicians, and patients are not going to be getting chemo at their neighborhood urgent care center. Nonetheless, familiarity with various cancers—and even more importantly, their treatments and complications—is reaching need-to-know status for urgent care providers. Whether it’s sudden concerns over symptoms of infection or even “just” a high fever, cancer patients need immediate care more often than patients who are typically in good health. As we told you months ago, Johns Hopkins set up an urgent care facility specifically for cancer patients; now the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas offers urgent care services within its hematology oncology clinic. As with any other presenting complaint, the urgent care option helps reduce emergency room traffic but also helps patients who often have weakened immune systems stay away from large crowds of people who could have communicable illness. Treating today’s complaints today can also help outpatients avoid becoming inpatients. Johns Hopkins reports that roughly 80% of patients admitted to its dedicated urgent care center are discharged home. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is encouraging such efforts with new payment and delivery models that reward quality cancer care. And starting in 2020, hospitals may be penalized if patients who are receiving outpatient chemotherapy visit the emergency department or are admitted to the hospital. So, once again, urgent care has a golden opportunity to prove its value both as a destination for quality care, but also a critical cost saver for the nation’s healthcare system. To learn more about important considerations when treating patients who have cancer in your urgent care center, read An Urgent Care Approach to Malignancy Complications, published in the January issue of JUCM.
More Cancer Patients Are Heading to Urgent Care for Immediate Needs