Impact of Cancer Care Regionalization on Patient Volume

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Annals of surgical oncology


BACKGROUND: Cancer centers are regionalizing care to expand patient access, but the effects on patient volume are unknown. This study aimed to compare patient volumes before and after the establishment of head and neck regional care centers (HNRCCs).

METHODS: This study analyzed 35,394 unique new patient visits at MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) before and after the creation of HNRCCs. Univariate regression estimated the rate of increase in new patient appointments. Geospatial analysis evaluated patient origin and distribution.

RESULTS: The mean new patients per year in 2006-2011 versus 2012-2017 was 2735 ± 156 patients versus 3155 ± 207 patients, including 464 ± 78 patients at HNRCCs, reflecting a 38.4 % increase in overall patient volumes. The rate of increase in new patient appointments did not differ significantly before and after HNRCCs (121.9 vs 95.8 patients/year; P = 0.519). The patients from counties near HNRCCs, showed a 210.8 % increase in appointments overall, 33.8 % of which were at an HNRCC. At the main campus exclusively, the shift in regional patients to HNRCCs coincided with a lower rate of increase in patients from the MDACC service area (33.7 vs. 11.0 patients/year; P = 0.035), but the trend was toward a greater increase in out-of-state patients (25.7 vs. 40.3 patients/year; P = 0.299).

CONCLUSIONS: The creation of HNRCCs coincided with stable increases in new patient volume, and a sizeable minority of patients sought care at regional centers. Regional patients shifted to the HNRCCs, and out-of-state patient volume increased at the main campus, optimizing access for both local and out-of-state patients.

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ePub ahead of print