Success Story Thursday: Vancouver Island Thoracic Surgery Oncology Program

Dr. John Samphire wanted to get lung cancer patients into the OR sooner. Inefficiencies in the transfer of patients between the initial abnormal CT scan, further diagnostics with specialists, and scheduling the surgery can create harmful delays in treatment. Using his grant from the South Island MSA, Dr. Samphire wanted to encourage family physicians to direct their patients through a central pathway, saying, “Let us deal with it, send it our way. I think most family doctors are happy with that, knowing these cases are being routed through the pathway and that their patients’ care is being taken care of”.

To streamline the management of patients with lung cancer, Dr. Samphire devised a Vancouver Island Thoracic Surgery Oncology Program (VITOP), involving thoracic surgeons, respirology, radiology, thoracic surgery office staff, medical and radiation oncology, ER doctors, and family practitioners. The VITOP began on November 1, 2018.

The VITOP aims to see patients in as little as 10-14 days. Prior to the initiation of this pathway, patients sometimes waited as long as 6-8 weeks to be seen by a surgeon. Dr. Samphire and colleagues are now conducting an evaluation of the program, measuring wait times and capturing where delays arise in the referral process.

Speaking about the benefits of the funding, Dr. Samphire stated that having a fixed end date and a time-bound source of funding gave the project an urgency that might not have been there otherwise. “It would be too easy for this type of thing to fall off the list of things to do, but with the funding in place, it gave us all a sense of accountability”.

The next step of this project is to make it an island-wide process, bringing radiologists, respirologists, and GPs from up island on board.

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