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Transitioning low-risk cancer survivors back to their primary care provider (PCP) has been shown to be safe but the effect on health system resources and costs has not been examined.
A Well Follow-Up Care Initiative (WFCI) was implemented in the publicly funded health system. Low-risk breast cancer (BC) survivors in the WFCI intervention group were transitioned from oncologist-led cancer clinics to PCPs. We compared health system costs ($2,014 in Canadian dollars) and resource utilization in this intervention group with that in propensity-score–matched nontransitioned BC survivors (ie, controls) diagnosed in the same year, with similar disease profile and patient characteristics using publicly funded administrative databases.
A total of 2,324 BC survivors from the WFCI intervention group were 1:1 matched to controls and observed for 25 months. Compared with controls, survivors in the intervention group incurred a similar number of PCP visits (6.9 v 7.5) and fewer oncologist visits (0.3 v 1.2) per person-year. Fewer survivors in the intervention group (20.1%) were hospitalized than in the control group (24.4%). There were no differences in emergency visits. More survivors in the intervention group had mammograms (82.6% v 73.1%), but other diagnostic tests were less frequent. There was a 39.3% reduction in overall mean annual costs ($6,575 v $10,832) and a 22.1% reduction in overall median annual costs ($2,261 v $2,903). Overall survival in the intervention group was not worse than controls.
Transitioning low-risk BC survivors to PCPs was associated with lower health system resource use and a lower annual cost per patient than matched controls. The WFCI model represents a reasonable approach at the population level to delivering quality care for low-risk BC survivors that seems to be cost effective.
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