Novel Program Offering Remote, Asynchronous Subspecialist Input in Thoracic Oncology: Early Experience and Insights Gained During the COVID-19 Pandemic

This article was originally published here

JCO Oncol Pract. 2021 Dec 3:OP2100339. doi: 10.1200/OP.21.00339. Online ahead of print.


PURPOSE: AccessHope is a program developed initially by City of Hope to provide remote subspecialist input on cancer care for patients as a supplemental benefit for specific payers or employers. The leading platform for this work has been an asynchronous model of review of medical records followed by a detailed assessment of past and current management along with discussion of potential future options in a report sent to the local oncologist. This summary describes an early period of development and growth of this service, focusing on cases of lung cancer, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

METHODS: Cases were primarily identified by a trigger list of cancer diagnoses that included non-small-cell lung cancer and small-cell lung cancer. After medical records were obtained, a summary narrative was provided to a thoracic oncology specialist who wrote a case review sent to the local physician, followed by a direct discussion with the recipient. We focused on feasibility as measured by case volumes, the rates of concordance between the subspecialist reviewer with the local team, and cost savings from recommended changes, using descriptive statistics.

RESULTS: From April 2019 to November 2020, 110 cases were reviewed: 55% male, median age 62.5 years (range, 33-92 years); 82% non-small-cell lung cancer (12% stage I or II, 16% stage III, and 57% stage IV), and 17% small-cell lung cancer (4% limited and 14% extensive). Median turnaround time for report send-out was 5.0 days. The review agreed with local management in 79 (72%) cases and disagreed in 31 (28%) cases; notably, specific additional recommendations were associated with evidence-based anticipated improvements in efficacy in 76 cases (69%) and improvement in potential for cure in 14 cases (13%). Recommendations leading to cost savings were identified in 14 cases (13%), translating to a projected cost savings of $19,062 (USD) per patient for the entire cohort of patient cases reviewed.

CONCLUSION: We demonstrate the feasibility of completing a rapid turnaround of cases of lung cancer either patient-initiated for review or prospectively triggered by diagnosis and stage. This program of asynchronous second opinions identified evidence-based management changes affecting current treatment in 28% and potential improvements to improve care in 92% of patients, along with cost savings realized by eliminating low-value interventions.

PMID:34860558 | DOI:10.1200/OP.21.00339