Previous research has indicated that patient satisfaction is linked to time spent with a physician. However, long wait times and organizational issues in an outpatient setting may increase the need for alternative care models. In a study presented at the ASCO Annual Meeting, researchers assessed the use of phone calls instead of a face-to-face consultation prior to chemotherapy (CT) and the effect on patient satisfaction and quality of life.

Patients younger than 76 years, with a performance status less than 1, who could respond to a phone call, and who were receiving day 8 or 15 of CT were included. A total of 343 patients were enrolled in the before (control arm) and after (intervention arm) study between 2013 and 2016. In the control cohort (n = 168), patients had a systematic physician consultation the day prior to CT administration. In the intervention cohort (n = 175), patients received a phone call from a junior physician the day prior to CT administration.

A questionnaire on CT-related toxicity from the previous treatment cycle was recorded, and a physician decided CT validation. Following the consultations, patients received the prepared CT without an appointment with the oncologist.

Patient satisfaction was assessed use the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer’s In-PatSat32, and health status was assessed using the EuroQol five dimensions questionnaire at the end of CT protocol.

Most patients in the control (83%) and intervention (74%) cohorts had completed questionnaires, with a total of 241 questionnaires analyzed for the study.

Satisfaction with care showed similar In-PatSat32 scores between patient cohorts for satisfaction with physician, nurse, organization, and overall services. No differences in perceived health status and toxicity were observed either; however, time spent in the hospital was lower in the intervention group (p = 0.007).

The researchers determined that the alternative care pathway was feasible without compromising patient satisfaction, quality of life, and toxicity. “We believe that saving time of patients, physicians, and pharmacists is a way to optimize the model of care in an outpatient unit,” the authors concluded.