Background: Hospitals' use of observation status for patients with cancer presenting to the emergency department (ED) is not well understood. This model of care delivery may be a viable alternative to inpatient admission for patients with cancer presenting with certain conditions. Our objective was to assess the use of observation status among Medicare beneficiaries with and without cancer. Methods: Population-based SEER-Medicare data were used to assess differences in the use of observation status between Medicare beneficiaries aged ≥66 years with and without cancer using a matched analysis (n=151,183 per cohort). We assessed the ratio of observation unit use to inpatient admission, between cancer and noncancer cohorts, and for patients diagnosed with breast, colon, lung, and prostate cancers. Poisson regression models were used to calculate observation rate estimates and 95% CIs while adjusting for selected patient characteristics. Results: When considering the volume of hospitalizations, observation status is used less frequently among beneficiaries with cancer than those without (43 vs 69 observation status visits per 1,000 inpatient admissions, respectively). The estimated observation rate per 1,000 inpatient admissions was higher for beneficiaries aged <75 years versus those aged ≥75 years, those with a Charlson comorbidity index of 0 vs 1 or ≥2, and those without a prior hospitalization versus those with ≥1 prior hospitalizations. Patients with breast and prostate cancers had higher adjusted and unadjusted observation rates per 1,000 inpatient admissions compared with those with colon and lung cancers. Conclusions: Observation status is used proportionately less for beneficiaries with cancer than those without. There may be opportunities to develop standards for ED staff to manage certain conditions for patients with cancer in observation status, and to reserve hospital resources for those who need it most.
Allison Lipitz-Snyderman, Adam Klotz, Renee L. Gennarelli, and Jeffrey Groeger
Allison Lipitz-Snyderman, Jessica Kennington, Brooke Hogan, Deborah Korenstein, Leonard Kalman, Suresh Nair, Peter Yu, Paul Sabbatini, and David Pfister
Background: The proliferation of relationships between community health systems and academic medical centers has created a need to identify effective components of these models. This article reports on frontline physician experiences, with one such relationship established through the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) Cancer Alliance. MSK created the Alliance with the goals of rapidly bringing the newest standards of care into community settings and increasing patient access to clinical trials in their local communities. Methods: Alliance leadership administered a 10-question anonymous survey to physicians treating patients with cancer across the 3 Alliance member health systems: Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute, Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute, and Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida. The purpose of the survey was to identify opportunities to improve physician engagement. Results: There were 103 clinician respondents across Alliance members, of which 87 reported participation in a disease management team and were included in the final analysis. Most respondents reported high value from Alliance activities, such as attending MSK tumor boards (94%) and lecture series (96%), among those who reported them applicable. Across all respondents, most reported satisfaction with engagement opportunities, such as MSK physician participation in their institution’s meetings (76%). When asked where they would like to see increased engagement, the most commonly reported response was for more lecture series (45%). Most respondents (88%) reported that the Alliance led to practice change, either for themselves or for other clinicians at their institution. Many attributed this practice change to MSK disease-specific process measures. Conclusions: The activities most valued by community physicians were heavily physician relationship–based. The encouraging experience of the MSK Cancer Alliance suggests that activities involving physician investment may be effective for promoting practice change in the context of cross-institution relationships. Future research is needed in this area.