Multidisciplinary first-day consultation accelerates diagnostic procedures and throughput times of patients in a head-and-neck cancer care pathway, a mixed method study

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BackgroundHead and neck cancers are fast growing tumours that are complex to diagnose and treat. Multidisciplinary input into organization and logistics is critical to start treatment without delay. A multidisciplinary first-day consultation (MFDC) was introduced to reduce throughput times for patients suffering from head and neck cancer in the care pathway. In this mixed method study we evaluated the effects of introducing the MFDC on throughput times, number of patient hospital visits and compliance to the Dutch standard to start treatment within 30 calendar-days.MethodsData regarding days needed for referral', days needed for diagnostic procedures', days to start first treatment', and number of hospital visits' (process indicators) were retrieved from the medical records and analysed before and after implementation of the MFDC (before implementation: 2007 (n=21), and after 2008 (n=20), 2010 (n=24) and 2013 (n=24)). We used semi-structured interviews with medical specialists to explore a sample of outliers.ResultsComparing 2007 and 2008 data (before and after MFDC implementation), days needed for diagnostic procedures and to start first treatment reduced with 8days, the number of hospital visits reduced with 1.5 visit on average. The percentage of new patients treated within the Dutch standard of 30 calendar-days after intake increased from 52 to 83%.The reduction in days needed for diagnostic procedures was sustainable. Days needed to start treatment increased in 2013. Semi-structured interviews revealed that this delay could be attributed to new treatment modalities, patients needed more time to carefully consider their treatment options or professionals needed extra preparation time for organisation of more complex treatment due to early communication on diagnostic procedures to be performed.ConclusionsA MFDC is efficient and benefits patients. We showed that the MFDC implementation in the care pathway had a positive effect on efficiency in the care pathway. As a consequence, the extra efforts of four specialist disciplines, a nurse practitioner, and a coordinating nurse seeing the patient together during intake, were justified. Start treatment times increased as a result of new treatment modalities that needed more time for preparation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number820
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29-Oct-2018


  • First-day consultation
  • Oncology
  • Management care pathways
  • Critical pathways (MeSH)
  • Process indicators
  • Mixed method study
  • Head and neck cancer

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