Nurses Play a Critical Role in the Patient’s Health Throughout the Continuity of Care

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Because of the development of more sensitive diagnostic techniques, new combinations of medications, and better palliative care, patients with cancer are experiencing increased rates of survival. In concert with these changes and to optimize the use of healthcare resources, there has been increasing use of outpatient chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments. Consequently, more patients experience treatment-related side effects while at home.

Piazza and colleagues examined the issue of continuity of cancer care and analyzed which strategies can be adopted organizationally to ensure positive outcomes in continuity of care.

The researchers conducted a literature search from March 2019 to March 2020, and identified a total of 21 studies, including 2 randomized controlled trials, 1 mixed-methods case study, 12 systematic reviews, 5 systematic reviews with meta-analysis, and 1 literary review.

Three kinds of organizational strategies emerged, based on the data examination. These included the application of supporting tools (eg, supportive care plans) and supporting the role of the nurse in the healthcare pathway (Specialist Nurse, Nurse Case Manager); applying specific organizational models in the healthcare setting (Acute Oncology Service); and integrating the use of telemedicine in clinical practice (eg, tailor-made smartphone apps, cancer helpline).

Among patients with cancer, ensuring the continuity of care could possibly improve symptom management and overall satisfaction, and help contain costs through the avoidance of inappropriate hospital readmissions and emergency department visits, for example.

Investing in training professionals who must acquire skills to educate patients on the timely recognition and management of complications is essential to ensure the correct use of healthcare services.

Based on their involvement in the broad spectrum of healthcare settings, the nurse plays a critical role in the patient’s health continuum, helping to plan and integrate every step of the care pathway. The expanded use of telemedicine and a range of supportive tools, which may be integrated into specific organizational models, may help ease this process.

Source

Piazza M. Why speaking about continuity of care among cancer patients? How to ensure it? A literary review about organizational strategies. Ann Oncol. 2021;32(suppl_5):S1275-S1281.

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