"The infusion center patients see me as I go through the office and I see them. Even if I don't have an appointment with them, there is a certain psychological impact on the patient of knowing that the physician is a constant presence in their care," says Ali. The continuity of the patient's care, Ali explains, also comes from the team approach the center has achieved through outreach.
For instance, a patient who undergoes breast surgery meets with Ali to decide on postoperative treatment options. The nurse is in the room with Ali and is part of the treatment planning process. The same nurse works with the patient as she begins infusion treatments, and the nurse calls the patient at home between appointments to address any concerns. If there is any problem or question with a patient in the infusion center, Ali is accessible and a nurse can fill him in quickly. Ali is certain that this extended care has reduced hospital admissions. Through the phone calls and regular interaction with the patients, the nurses can detect difficulties early on, instead of waiting until the patient arrives for a regular appointment.
"The nurse plays a supportive care role and they keep me plugged in," says Ali. That means keeping tabs on how the patient is reacting to the potentially toxic treatments and ensuring the patient is able to maintain his or her quality of life throughout the process.
"They play navigator for the patient and that makes a difference. My nurses tell me when a patient is having a bad day or a good one. … So when a patient comes in for a follow-up visit, I know everything that's happened since the patient was last in. We want to do everything we can to keep our patients out of the hospital," he says.