The prevalence of cancer across the globe is highest in the most developed countries, including those in the US, Europe, the Nordics, and Asia, according to the World Cancer Research Fund International.1 Rates exceed 300 per 100,000 for nine of these 10 countries when the average across all countries is only 182 per 100,000.1 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that these rates will increase by more than 30% in the next 10 years.3 This means in the US alone, with advances in early detection technologies and a growing population of advanced age, cancer survivorship will reach approximately 18 million.3
“...time away from work and associated transportation and child-care costs inadvertently increase health disparities”4
The CDC acknowledges that the “economic burden of cancer survivorship is substantial among all survivors,” with most patients needing to maintain their working status to remain eligible for health insurance coverage.3 Because of individualized- and employment-based health insurance, it’s necessary to have cancer treatments take as little time as possible from a patient’s normal routine. Additionally, people undergoing cancer treatment may have lower-paying, hourly jobs and often must take time off from work for testing and treatment. Ultimately, time away from work and associated transportation and child-care costs inadvertently increase health disparities. 4
“...point-of-care testing has the potential
to significantly impact healthcare delivery”4
A healthcare facility’s ability to improve the time to treatment is achieved through reduced time from blood testing to result, and then to the administration of care (surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, proton therapy, etc.). Typically, this requires patients to have blood drawn and tested prior to treatment taking place. Since it’s paramount to determine a patient’s baseline status (ie, liver and kidney; electrolyte balance, etc.), these tests are the critical first steps in providing safe, high-quality care.
Healthcare facilities treating cancer patients should strive to streamline workflow and improve quality of care through improved efficiencies. Accelerating the receipt of important diagnostic information prior to chemotherapy administration is one way of increasing efficiency and reducing the frequency of canceled appointments due to lack of completed bloodwork. Decreasing time to treatment is a critical piece in the ongoing viability of public health and associated economics while making care more convenient for patients.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) believes that point-of-care testing “has the potential to significantly impact health care delivery and to address the challenges of health disparities”.4 Identifying ways to improve time to treatment is a viable way to increase a patients’ experience, efficiency and quality of care as well as their productivity outside of care, in spite of their cancer diagnoses.
References: 1.World Cancer Research Fund International. Data for Cancer Frequency by Country. http://www.wcrf.org/int/cancer-facts-figures/data-cancer-frequency-country 2. International Labor Organization. World Employment Social Outlook. http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---dgreports/---dcomm/---publ/documents/publication/wcms_443480.pdf 3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Medical Costs and Productivity Losses of Cancer Survivors — United States, 2008–2011 (2014) https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ mm6323a2.htm 4. National Institutes for Health. Point-of-Care Diagnostic Testing. https://report.nih.gov/NIHfactsheets/Pdfs/PointofCareDiagnosticTesting(NIBIB).pdf
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