Commenced in January 2007
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medical social worker Related Abstracts

2 Role of Dedicated Medical Social Worker in Fund Mobilisation and Economic Evaluation in Ovarian Cancer: Experience from a Tertiary Referral Centre in Eastern India

Authors: Aparajita Bhattacharya, Mousumi Dutta, Zakir Husain, Dionne Sequeira, Asima Mukhopadhyay


Background: Tata Medical Centre (TMC), Kolkata is a major cancer referral centre in Eastern India and neighbouring countries providing state of the art facilities; however, it is a non-profit organisation with patients requiring to pay at subsidised rates. Although a system for social assessment and applying for governmental/ non-governmental (NGO) funds is in place, access is challenging. Amongst gynaecological cancers (GC), ovarian cancer (OC) is associated with the highest treatment cost; majority of which is required at the beginning when complex surgery is performed and funding arrangements cannot be made in time. We therefore appointed a dedicated Medical Social Worker (MSW) in 2016, supported by NGO for GC patients in order to assist patients/family members to access/avail these funds more readily and assist in economic evaluation for both direct and opportunity costs. Objectives: To reflect on our experience and challenges in collecting data on economic evaluation of cancer patients and compare success rates in achieving fund mobilization after introduction of MSW. Methods: A Retrospective survey. Patients with OC and their relatives were seen by the MSW during the initial outpatients department visit and followed though till discharge from the hospital and during follow-up visits. Assistance was provided in preparing the essential documents/paperwork/contacts for the funding agencies including both governmental (Chief-Minister/Prime-Minister/President) and NGO sources. In addition, a detailed questionnaire was filled up for economic assessment of direct/opportunity costs during the entire treatment and 12 months follow up period which forms a part of the study called HEPTROC (Health economic evaluation of primary treatment for ovarian cancer) developed in collaboration with economics departments of Universities. Results: In 2015, 102 patients were operated for OC; only 16 patients (15.68 %) had availed funding of a total sum of INR 1640000 through the hospital system for social assessment. Following challenges were faced by majority of the relatives: 1. Gathering important documents/proper contact details for governmental funding bodies and difficulty in following up the current status 3. Late arrival of funds. In contrast in 2016, 104 OC patients underwent surgery; the direct cost of treatment was significantly higher (median, INR 300000- 400000) compared to other GCs (n=274). 98/104 (94.23%) OC patients could be helped to apply for funds and 90/104(86.56%) patients received funding amounting to a total of INR 10897000. There has been a tenfold increase in funds mobilized in 2016 after the introduction of dedicated MSW in GC. So far, in 2017 (till June), 46/54(85.18%) OC patients applied for funds and 37/54(68.51%) patients have received funding. In a qualitative survey, all patients appreciated the role of the MSW who subsequently became the key worker for patient follow up and the chief portal for patient reported outcome monitoring. Data collection quality for the HEPTROC study was improved when questionnaires were administered by the MSW compared to researchers. Conclusion: Introduction of cancer specific MSW can expedite the availability of funds required for cancer patients and it can positively impact on patient satisfaction and outcome reporting. The economic assessment will influence fund allocation and decision for policymaking in ovarian cancer. Acknowledgement: Jivdaya Foundation Dallas, Texas.

Keywords: Ovarian Cancer, Economic Evaluation, funding, medical social worker

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1 Qualitative Study Method on Case Assignment Adopted by Singapore Medical Social Workers

Authors: Joleen L. H. Lee, K. F. Yen, Janette W. P. Ng, D. Woon, Mandy M. Y. Lau, Ivan M. H. Woo, S. N. Goh


Case assignment systems are created to meet a need for equity in work distribution and better match between medical social workers' (MSWs) competencies and patients' problems. However, there is no known study that has explored how MSWs in Singapore assign cases to achieve equity in work distribution. Focus group discussions were conducted with MSWs from public hospitals to understand their perception on equitable workload and case allocation. Three approaches to case allocation were found. First is the point system where points are allocated to cases based on a checklist of presenting issues identified most of the time by non-MSWs. Intensity of case is taken into consideration, but allocation of points is often subject to variation in appreciation of roles of MSWs by the source of referral. Second is the round robin system, where all MSWs are allocated cases based on a roster. This approach resulted in perceived equity due to element of luck, but it does not match case complexity with competencies of MSWs. Third approach is unit-based allocation, where MSWs are assigned to attend to cases from specific unit. This approach helps facilitate specialization among MSWs but may result in MSWs having difficulty providing transdisciplinary care due to narrow set of knowledge and skills. Trade-offs resulted across existing approaches for case allocation by MSWs. Conversations are needed among Singapore MSWs to decide on a case allocation system that comes with trade-offs that are acceptable for patients and other key stakeholders of the care delivery system.

Keywords: Equity, medical social worker, case allocation, work distribution

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