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Outpatient services are offered to patients who go to a health facility for an appointment or to seek healthcare services. Outpatient services do not involve overnight hospital stays (Rebholz, 2007). Outpatient services are cheaper than inpatient services. Outpatient services can be grouped into two categories. These are freestanding facilities and hospital-based services. Freestanding facilities offering outpatient services include surgical centers, urgent care centers, community health centers, retail healthcare centers, and mental health centers. Hospital-based outpatient services are outpatient surgery, oncology, emergency room and urgent care clinics (Rebholz, 2007).
Hospital-based oncology setting
Oncology setting in a hospital is visited by patients who are at different stages of cancer or tumor development. With an increasing number of patients diagnosed with cancer annually, there is a need to have fully operating oncology outpatient settings in hospitals where patients can receive the needed healthcare.
The setting offers diagnosis, treatment and healthcare services to patients with tumors and cancers. Cancer screening is also offered to populations or close relatives of the affected patients. The screening services are necessary because they help diagnose cancer at early stages. Early diagnosis is necessary in cancer management. Genetic screening also helps predict the chances of parents giving birth to a baby with a genetic disorder that would result in a form of cancer. The parents would undergo genetic counseling to understand issues related to the disorder.
The key personnel in the oncology setting include health records personnel, nurses and nurse practitioners, physicians and their assistants, medical assistants and medical laboratory technologists. The team offers a multidisciplinary approach to the diagnosis, treatment, and support of cancer patients. (Ferrante, Balasubramanian, Hudson, & Crabtree, 2010).
The oncology setting is both interdependent and independent. It is interdependent because its personnel interact with personnel from other departments like the billing, laboratory and pharmacy departments. Samples (blood or tissue) are drawn from patients and tested in the laboratory department. Drugs prescribed for the patients visiting the oncology setting are dispensed at the pharmacy department. The setting is supported by the billing department because it is in the billing department where patients pay their healthcare bills either out-of-pocket or using healthcare insurance. The setting is independent because the employees working in the setting complement each other. Every worker is essential. For example, health records employees ensure proper documentation of patients’ health records while nurses provide patients with nursing healthcare. Oncologists are physicians who specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and science of tumors and cancers.
Two trends impacting the oncology setting
Supply and demand trends have been shown to influence the hospital-based oncology setting. If there is high demand for oncology services than the oncology personnel can handle, then the workers will be forced to work long hours to meet the demand. They will get tired, and their services would be of poor quality.
Political climate is another trend that impacts the setting. Political decisions play significant roles in socio-economic activities. Politics seem to influence every dimension of citizens’ lives. With political goodwill, oncology settings in hospitals can be well funded and equipped (Ferrante et al., 2010). Politics influence the passing of significant bills that would have positive impacts on oncology settings. For example, a healthcare bill to introduce free tumor testing and cancer treatment to all citizens. This can only be realized when health policymakers advise political players on the need to pass such a bill (Shortell & Kaluzny, 2006).
Evaluation of impacts of the trends on the oncology setting
The supply and demand trends in the oncology setting affect the quality and speed at which oncology services are offered to patients of the facility (Borkan, Eaton, Novillo-Ortiz, Corte & Jadad, 2010). When there are so many patients that the setting can not cope with, patients are not offered services in good time. Patients feel that the oncology setting is not providing them with quality services. It has been demonstrated that patients who are not offered quality services in good time change health facilities. The impacts of supply and demand trends have long-term negative effects in a healthcare facility. The two reasons for the setting to be unable to cope with the demand for oncology services are inadequate equipment and a small number of employees. High demand for oncology services dictates that the workers work for long hours so that they can cope with the patients’ in-flows. Tired personnel offer sub-standard services to patients (Borkan et al., 2010). Also, when the equipment needed for various diagnostic procedures is not adequate patients will be forced to wait for laboratory results for a long time.
Unfavorable political climate hurts healthcare funding and the management of healthcare facilities worldwide. Political decisions and implementation of healthcare policies are essential in the provision of quality healthcare services to patients. The funding is required for hiring personnel and purchasing essential equipment (Borkan et al., 2010). Members of the governing party may propose the bill, but the opposition shoots it down. With the new cancer cases projected to be 26 million by 2050 in the U.S, it is high time a bill on free oncology services is passed.
The analysis and mitigation of the trends
The trends pose serious hurdles in the provision of quality healthcare services in oncology settings. Sound management skills are needed to recognize and mitigate these trends. A thorough analysis will improve the services and prevent future negative impacts caused by the trends. The trends present a great opportunity upon which wonderful healthcare improvements can be executed.
Healthcare administrators in the facility must analyze the impacts of these trends. The analysis should start by adding up the components of the trends and getting a holistic picture of the negative impacts. Qualitative and quantitative analysis is essential in healthcare settings (Borkan et al., 2010). The results will give the current values of the situation in the oncology setting and compare these values to the previous ones. This will give a clear picture of progression or retrogression.
The overall goal of the trends analysis is to improve the operation and bottom-line performance (Borkan et al., 2010). There should be an adequate number of employees that go hand in hand with good human resource management. Equipment for diagnostic purposes should also be purchased. These two steps will ensure that there are no negative impacts caused by the demand and supply trends in the future. The oncology setting and the overall hospital management should stress the need to have free oncology services. The management should link, with the policymakers, to facilitate the ideology to be passed as an act or healthcare bill. This will ensure that all patients will have access to free diagnosis, treatment, counseling, and follow-ups related to oncology cases.
Borkan, J., Eaton, C. B., Novillo-Ortiz, D., Corte, P. R., & Jadad, A. R. (2010). Renewing primary care: lessons learned from the Spanish health care system. Health Affairs, 29(8), 1432-1441.
Ferrante, J. M., Balasubramanian, B. A., Hudson, S. V., & Crabtree, B. F. (2010). Principles of the patient-centered medical home and preventive services delivery. The Annals of Family Medicine, 8(2), 108-116.
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Rebholz, J. S. (2007). Outpatient odyssey. Ambulatory facilities mirror hospital interior trends. Health facilities management, 20(11), 27-31.
Shortell, S. M. & Kaluzny, A. D. (2006). Health Care Management: Organizational Design and Behavior (5th ed.). Clifton, NY: Delmar.