Healthc (Amst). 2021 Jun 26;9(3):100563. doi: 10.1016/j.hjdsi.2021.100563. Online ahead of print.
INTRODUCTION: The diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer is challenged by complex diagnostic pathways and fragmented care that can lead to care disparities for vulnerable patients.
METHODS: A multi-institutional, multidisciplinary conference was convened to address the complexity of lung cancer care particularly in patients at high-risk for treatment delay. The resulting care delivery model, called the Lung Cancer Strategist Program (LCSP), was led by a thoracic-trained advanced practice provider (APP) with emphasis on expedited surgery and early oncologic consultation in the assessment of a newly diagnosed suspicious lung nodule. We performed a retrospective review to evaluate care efficiency and oncologic outcomes in the first 100 LCSP patients compared to 100 concurrent patients managed via routine surgical referral.
RESULTS: In the 78 LCSP and 41 routine referral patients managed via nodule surveillance, LCSP patients had a shorter time from suspicious finding to work-up (3 vs. 26 days, p < 0.001) and to surveillance decision (12.5 vs. 39 days, p < 0.001). In the 22 LCSP and 59 routine referral patients treated for intrathoracic malignancy, LCSP patients had fewer hospital visits (4 vs 6, p < 0.001), clinicians seen (1.5 vs. 2, p = 0.08), and diagnostic studies (4 vs 5, p = 0.01) with a shorter time to diagnosis (30.5 vs. 48 days, p = 0.02) and treatment (40.5 vs. 68.5 days, p = 0.02).
CONCLUSIONS: Patient triage through a thoracic-trained APP in consultation with surgical, medical, and radiation oncology facilitates rapid assessment of benign versus malignant lesions with reduced time to diagnosis and treatment, even among patients at high-risk for treatment delay.