OUR ONE-STOP CANCER FACILITY
Oncology patients are now able to navigate a complex treatment programme – from chemotherapy to radiation and counselling – in one convenient location at Mediclinic Constantiaberg.
“I felt a lump in my left breast. It was roughly the size of an egg. So I went for a mammogram, which was followed by a biopsy and scan, all within the space of 45 minutes. When my GP phoned me with the result, I sat on the stoep, stared into the distance and started to weep.”
For well-known artist and ceramicist Tania Babb, dealing with a cancer diagnosis was difficult, made only more so by a sense of uncertainty.
After a number of gruelling chemotherapy sessions and a lumpectomy, Tania was the first patient to experience the new, all-in-one oncology treatment centre at Mediclinic Constantiaberg. “I was scheduled for 25 sessions of radiation, every day, for 20 minutes at a time,” she says. “The fact that treatment was so close to my home was a massive help. The convenience meant less disruption to my day, which made me feel less angry and confused about everything.”
A cancer diagnosis is not an easy one to receive – or to deliver. And once it’s made, patients and medical professionals embark on an intense journey together that can last for years. Cancer treatment generally requires a multidisciplinary approach, including treatment from surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, and other specialists.
And if these consultations and treatments are uncoordinated, with treatments spread between different doctors at separate venues, they can be both inefficient and inconvenient for the patient.
Mediclinic Southern Africa, in association with Icon Oncology and CancerCare, now delivers seamless one-stop oncology services at a new flagship treatment facility based at Mediclinic Constantiaberg in Cape Town – and more of these units are in the pipeline.
“When the process is not integrated, the patient is at risk of wasting money on repeated tests, as well as wasting time they may not have,” says Icon Oncology CEO Anthony Pedersen. “Streamlining that process by bringing together experts and interactions under one roof and with one goal in mind, improves the patient experience, controls costs and improves the quality and efficiency of their care.”
This is the thinking behind the launch of the state-of-the-art oncology facility. Here, specialist oncologists, next-generation precision radiotherapy technology and in-house chemotherapy care treatments are all available, so patients don’t have to travel between medical facilities while undergoing treatment and tests.
Cancer treatment is best centred in one convenient place, close to the patient’s home, explains one of the unit’s specialist oncologists, Dr Jill Harris. “It needs to offer a calming, reassuring environment and the transfer of care from the primary surgeon, radiologist and physician to the oncologist and management team needs to be completely smooth-flowing and efficient.”
“Streamlining the process by bringing together experts and interactions under one roof and with one goal in mind, improves the patient experience, controls costs and improves the quality and efficiency of their care.”Anthony Pederson, CEO Icon Oncology
The new R45-million oncology unit offers radiation therapy and full-service chemotherapy treatment facilities, along with consulting practitioner suites
The unit also features the latest in oncology technology, with an in-house, stereotactic-enabled, Varian Truebeam LINAC. “The TrueBeam’s biggest benefit is that it offers a diverse range of radiation therapies,” says another of the unit’s oncologists, Dr Garth Davids. “This means we can target tumours extremely accurately and minimise damage to surrounding healthy tissue.”
The LINAC offers sophisticated functionality and is one of the most advanced treatment capabilities available in the world. “It also reduces the time it takes to treat a tumour due to its precision, which means a less traumatic experience for patients during treatment,” Dr Davids says.
As Dr Harris says, the key benefit of offering a comprehensive cancer treatment is that the patient feels more comfortable. “It’s a difficult time for them and they need quick access to smooth-flowing treatment,” she says. “They also appreciate the relationships between the referring doctors. Once a patient is in the system, we hold multidisciplinary team meetings – from primary diagnostic doctors to the oncologists to pathologists and radiologists to genetic counsellors,” she adds.
“The fact that treatment was so close to my home was a massive help. The convenience meant less disruption to my day, which made me feel less angry about everything.”Tania Babb, breast cancer patient
“We all participate in that journey to review the patient’s diagnosis and ensure correct recommendations about optimal treatment. Although it’s not universally true, it has been shown that survival outcomes in a wide variety of cancers have been improved in centres that have multidisciplinary clinics.”
Koert Pretorius, CEO of Mediclinic Southern Africa, explains that these investments in a value-based care model reflect Mediclinic’s vision to ensure the patient always comes first. “While acute care hospital service will remain the anchor of the business, we are developing a continuum of care, starting with primary care and covering all the services in order to provide a one-stop experience to our patients.”
Because of affordability challenges, healthcare needs to be delivered at the most appropriate level of care. “We’re seeing a migration of work from acute care to more appropriate settings like day surgery clinics, primary care environments and procedures in doctors’ rooms,” Pretorius explains. “These initiatives are made possible with new technology. They offer a better patient experience as the settings aren’t as intimidating as a traditional acute care hospital.’
Mediclinic’s recent partnership with Icon makes it easier for patients to navigate a complex treatment journey, as all the services are available under one roof, he says. “It’s very encouraging that Mediclinic, Icon and CancerCare share the same vision of value-based care as this will lead to a better experience for our patients.”