When patients become diagnosed with cancer, most will experience distress and anxiety regarding treatment and survivorship.
Members of the cancer care team seem to do a good job with educating their patients on treatment options and side effects, but how many of you are educating patients on the process? In other words, how many of you are orienting patients to the cancer facility itself and providing direction in areas such as radiology, the outpatient laboratory, pharmacy, the infusion center, or even parking?
Iím sure many of us have experienced such anxiety when visiting a clinic or hospital for an appointment for a CT scan, a mammogram, or some sort of outpatient procedure and soon realizing that we have arrived at the wrong building or parked on the other side of the campus. Now we'll arrive late to our appointment and possibly even receive a parking ticket.
I would imagine that this would create even more stress for a cancer patient arriving for a PET/CT scan to evaluate for metastatic disease or for the patient arriving for her first chemotherapy infusion and not having any idea where to go. We also need to consider the patient with financial issues and what services your institution can provide, whether that is a phone number for billing inquiries or arranging a meeting with a social service professional.
We also canít forget our wonderful oncology nurse navigators. These nurses, in particular, can help steer patients through the chaos of the medical system and provide ongoing coordinated cancer care.
Currently, there are many cancer centers that provide orientation for their newly diagnosed cancer patients. It may be in the form of a brochure, an information folder, or even a live patient/family group orientation. I really like the idea of the live group orientation sessions because they allow family members and friends to ask questions and provide ongoing support for their loved one diagnosed with cancer. In addition, group sessions like this may be a place where cancer patients can network with other newly diagnosed patients and possibly establish another avenue for support.
Cancer centers such as the Moffitt Cancer Center and the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center offer online resources and information regarding live orientation sessions in an effort to help patients navigate through what is often times considered a traumatic process.
Having a patient orientation system in place is one way we can minimize anxiety for a newly diagnosed cancer patient and possibly even improve patient outcomes.
So tell me, what type of patient orientation programs do you currently have in place at your cancer center?