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Changes Ease the Difficult Journey for Lung Cancer Patients

Teams of cancer-care clinicians at The Ottawa Hospital have worked tirelessly in recent months to cut wait times for lung cancer diagnoses from as long as three months to two weeks – a move that not only helps reduce the stress on patients, but also can mean the difference between life and death given that lung cancer spreads so aggressively.

Lung cancer doctors at the The Ottawa Hospital

Dr. Michael Fung-Kee-Fung (back left) is leading the cancer-care program redesign, with the help of Drs. James Villeneuve (front left), Paul Wheatley-Price (front right) and Jason Pantarotto, aiming not only to serve patients better, but also to make better use of staff’s time, energy and efforts.

“The disease could get worse while our patients wait for care,” said Dr. James Villeneuve, a thoracic surgeon. “They are waiting too long and that’s unacceptable,” added Dr. Jason Pantarotto, Chief of Radiation Oncology.

Their effort is the first step in an ambitious plan to reorganize The Ottawa Hospital’s entire cancer-care program, making it less fragmented and more responsive to patients’ needs.

“We want to redesign the delivery of care around the patient to improve their outcomes and their experience,” said Dr. Michael Fung-Kee-Fung, Head of Surgical Oncology, who is leading the redesign. “This involves reorganizing all the health-care providers around the patient’s journey. Their common focus is to implement innovative practices, new therapies and new ideas for delivering care in more efficient and effective ways.”

Currently, every patient with suspicious changes in lung tissue must go through multiple tests to get a diagnosis. Each step – scan, biopsy and lab tests – has its own waiting list and maze of paperwork. By the time patients finally get a diagnosis and an appointment with a surgeon or oncologist, their treatment options are often limited.

Dr. Fung-Kee-Fung’s redesign team, along with dozens of managers and cancer-care colleagues, have tackled the long waits by mapping out every step in the long, roundabout route to diagnosis. They set aggressive turnaround times at every stage, while stamping out inefficiencies. The result is a simpler way to handle lung assessments that ensures that patients’ files are handed from clinic to diagnostics to the most appropriate specialist as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

Reprinted with permission from The Ottawa Hospital

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