Oncology experts can provide prompt specialized care not always available in emergency departments
Simmons Acute Care (SAC) offers same-day appointments for patients of UT Southwestern Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center who are experiencing symptoms or side effects, such as nausea or an infection, that require urgent attention but are not immediately life-threatening.
“A beneficial difference in our model is that we staff our clinic with experts in providing oncology symptom management in an outpatient context,” says Sadaf Charania, M.P.A.S., PA-C, a board-certified physician assistant at Simmons Cancer Center, who leads SAC.
The Value Proposition
Providing same-day appointments for patients builds stronger relationships with providers and drives greater adherence to the treatment plan, Ms. Charania says.
“Ultimately, we want to get these patients managed as soon as possible with a clinician who has expertise in treating that symptom,” she adds. “Another main purpose of this patient-centric initiative is to keep patients out of the Emergency Department (ED) who do not need to be there.”
Simplifying Access and Care
Oncology urgent care specialists at the clinic can deliver various forms of treatment, in many cases alleviating a patient’s symptoms without the need for inpatient admission. More advanced services can also be scheduled as needed.
“The efficiency has been incredible. A patient may walk in that morning, come see me, and we come up with a plan – all within a few hours’ time,” Ms. Charania says.
From August 2020 to May 2023, SAC provided urgent care to 3,511 cancer patients. An analysis found that 65% of patients were discharged home, 22% were admitted to an inpatient setting for a higher level of care, and 12% were transferred to the ED. Sepsis was the most common reason for an ED transfer.
“We anticipate that the community will become more familiar with us, and more patients will seek us out directly,” Ms. Charania says. “It’s one way of helping to simplify access and care, which is a huge part of our mission at Simmons.”