June 21, 2017
A growing number of hospitals and oncology practices are establishing urgent care centers specifically for cancer patients. The goal is to keep patients out of emergency rooms, which are not only expensive, but also may expose patients to infectious diseases.
The centers are designed to better manage side-effects from traditional cancer treatment (chemotherapy) including severe pain, nausea, fever, and dehydration. Patients have access to same-day appointments and extended hours with oncology specialists, who are better equipped than ER doctors to treat cancer patients.
Johns Hopkins Hospital operates a six-bed urgent care center next to its infusion center. Roughly 80% of cancer patients who receive services at the urgent care center are discharged home, at an average total hospital charge of $1,600. In contrast, only 20% of cancer patients who visit the hospital’s emergency department are released. The remaining 80% end up with an average total hospital discharge of $2,300, plus the cost of the emergency department visit.
Other hospitals reporting early successes with urgent care centers specifically for cancer patients include New Mexico Oncology Hematology Consultants in Albuquerque, and and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
Last November, CMS issued a new rule that says by 2020, hospitals may be penalized if patients who are receiving outpatient chemotherapy visit the emergency department or are admitted to the hospital.
For questions, comments or concerns, please contact Jennifer Duell Popovec