Cancer Care Coordinators: Realising the Potential for Improving the Patient Journey

Yates, Patsy (2004) Cancer Care Coordinators: Realising the Potential for Improving the Patient Journey. Cancer Forum, 28(3), pp. 128-132.


A person diagnosed with cancer can receive multiple treatments in a variety of different health care settings over extended periods of time1. During this time, they come into contact with multiple health care providers. For example, one recent UK study reported that cancer patients with a diagnosis of less than one year had met 28 doctors on average since their diagnosis2. Add to this the many other health professionals with whom the patient will come into contact during their illness and the complex maze that can characterise the patient’s cancer journey is obvious. The Optimising Cancer Care in Australia report3 published in 2003 by the peak cancer organisations in Australia concluded that there are many places for the person with cancer to get lost in the system, causing unnecessary morbidity and undue distress. The lack of an integrated care system for people with cancer was identified as a major failing of today’s health system3. A number of states in Australia have moved to appoint cancer care coordinators as a strategy to address such problems. In Queensland, cancer coordination positions have been established in a number of Health Service Districts in the Southern and Central Zone of the State, initially to scope patterns of care, referral pathways and to define a cancer coordination model for their regions that is consistent across the state, but able to meet the local needs of the population. To support its Cancer Clinical Service Framework, the NSW Health Department plans to recruit up to 50 cancer nurse coordinators. Cancer nurse coordinators in NSW will work through Lead Clinicians and Directors of Area Cancer Services to support oncology team meetings, develop care pathways and protocols, and provide a direct source of contact for patients and primary care physicians accessing cancer services4. In Victoria, a number of program coordinators and regional nurse coordinators have been introduced as part of the breast services enhancement program. Individual institutions have also established nurse coordinator roles for specific tumour streams.

The cancer care coordinator role is a rapidly emerging one with a mandate to achieve some potentially far-reaching reforms to systems of care. To ensure these developments realise their potential, it is timely to consider the most effective ways to design and implement models of care coordination thatachieve the improvements being sought for the Australian cancer care system.

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ID Code: 1739
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
ISSN: 0311-306X
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > NURSING (111000) > Nursing not elsewhere classified (111099)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2004 Cancer Council of Australia
Copyright Statement: The contents of this journal can be freely accessed online via the journal’s web page (see link).
Deposited On: 04 Jul 2005 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:10

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