Radiation therapists ensure patients receive high overall quality of care through coordinated services, resources and collaboration with other healthcare professionals
- Cancer is a complex disease affecting an individual’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being
- Research has established that coordinated, collaborative service delivery improves clinical (i.e., mortality, length of stay, readmission) and patient-reported (i.e., satisfaction, health related quality of life) outcomes for a variety of acute and chronic conditions1.
- High quality radiation therapy treatment begins with an understanding of the individual patient and the care they are receiving.
- Some patients may be receiving chemotherapy prior to, following, or at the same time as radiation therapy
- Radiation therapy, chemotherapy and other treatments present potential for a range of early and late side effects
- Patients with cancer often access care from multiple resources over the course of their treatment2
- A program of care is developed with the multidisciplinary team that outlines all aspects of a patient’s care and the elements of coordination among the team.
- Outcomes are improved when patients receive cancer care from a highly functioning, multidisciplinary care team guided by a written plan of care3,4
- Communication is a foundation for efficient and coordinated deployment of an overall program of care with a multidisciplinary team5.
- In their role as patient advocates, Radiation Therapists have a professional responsibility to see that patients are receiving the most appropriate care.
- Studies have shown that patients place a high value on their time, and expect that the care they will receive will be well coordinated and efficient6.
- Coordination of care helps to make sure patients are well-informed throughout the cancer journey and ensures the flow of information within and across treatment teams7.
- Once a program of care has been developed, in conjunction with other healthcare providers, Radiation therapists ensure that the program is implemented in a timely and safe fashion, including:
- Providing care as part of daily treatment or by participating in a scheduled weekly review model8
- Identifying symptoms or concerns that require further investigation or management
- Anticipating elements of overall care that require coordination
- Collaborating by initiating contact and making referrals to the appropriate healthcare providers
- Monitoring and facilitating interventions recommended by the healthcare team – helping to reinforce, assess effectiveness and follow up
- Following up with the appropriate healthcare professionals to confirm the delivery of care matches the goals of the program
- Maintaining complete and up-to-date documentation of the program and the services accessed by the patient as a resource for those who wish to review the program of care
- Supporting informational, management and relational continuity of care by documenting in electronic or patient held records1
- Radiation therapists ensure they have an understanding of the overall program for the patient’s care and communicate this to the patient
- The regular contact Radiation therapists have with their patients provides an opportunity to build relationships and gain understanding and appreciation for patient needs and preferences.
- Discussions with patients should include a chance for the patient to ask questions and address concerns about the care they are receiving
- An understanding of specific patient needs will aid to improve and better coordinate care, while avoiding general assumptions about patient needs4
- Radiation therapists tailor information to enhance patients’ understanding9
- A comprehensive and holistic approach to patient communication and involvement in their own care should take into account4:
- What patients know already
- What they still want to know
- How they are affected by pre-existing symptoms
- Emotional concerns
- Family and employment concerns
- Concerns about specific risks associated with the treatment
- The use of a symptom assessment tool may provide a basis for an assessment of the patient’s needs and concerns4,10.
- This could entail a simple checklist that is used to guide patient discussion
- In addition, patients may be unaware that these services and resources could be available to them, and how to go about accessing them.
- Radiation Therapists discuss options with patients and make information available to them
Gagliardi AR, Dobrow MJ, Wright FC. How can we improve cancer care? A review of interprofessional collaboration models and their use in clinical management. Surg Oncol. 2011;20(3):146-154.
Clifford Chao KS, Perez CA, Brady LW. Radiation Oncology Management Decisions. 3rd ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. 2011.
Taylor C, Munro AJ, Glynne-Jones R, et al. Multidisciplinary team working in cancer: what is the evidence? BMJ. 2010;340:c951.
Patlak M, Balogh E, Nass S. Patient-Centered Cancer Treatment Planning: Improving the Quality of Oncology Care: Workshop Summary. The National Academies Press. 2011. Available from: https://www.nap.edu/read/13155/chapter/2. [Accessed 27 July 2018]
Hassey Dow K, Hilderley LJ. Nursing Care in Radiation Oncology. 2nd ed. Philadelphia PA: W.B. Saunders; 1992.
Gesell S, Gregory N. Identifying Priority Actions for Improving Patient Satisfaction With Outpatient Cancer Care. J Nurs Care Qual. 2004;19(3):226-233.
Aranda S. The importance of cancer care coordination. Mar 2012. Available from: https://www.cancerinstitute.org.au/about-us/news/the-importance-of-cancer-care-coordination. [Accessed 2 May 2018]
Alfieri F, Le Mottee MA, Arifuddin A, et al. Radiation therapist-led weekly patient treatment reviews. Radiographer. 2009;56(3):44-48.
Schnitzler L, Smith SK, Shepherd HL, et al. Communication during radiation therapy education sessions: the role of medical jargon and emotional support in clarifying patient confusion. Patient Education and Counseling. 2017;100(1):112-120. DOI: 10.1016/j.pec.2016.08.006.
Cancer Care Ontario. Edmonton Patient Assessment System. Available from: https://www.cancercare.on.ca/common/pages/UserFile.aspx?fileId=13262. [Accessed 20 Mar 2013]