Cancer care migrates to outpatient setting

Perhaps you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer. Or perhaps your IDN has acquired a medical oncology practice, or opened up a cancer care facility. In either case, you might have noticed the large volume of cancer care being delivered in community outpatient settings.

More than 80 percent of all cancer care is delivered in such settings, as opposed to academic centers, points out Steve Paulson, MD, president and chairman of the board of Texas Oncology in Dallas. Even high-dose chemotherapy and preparative regimens for bone marrow transplants — not to mention high-tech radiation diagnostics and therapy — are being delivered in outpatient settings.

Several factors have driven cancer care to the outpatient setting, says Paulson. They include the availability of infusion pumps for chemotherapy, the effectiveness of antiemetics (anti-nausea medications), and the development of other targeted cancer therapies. With that migration has come changes in the makeup of oncology practices, some clinically driven, some economically driven.

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