On November 9, 2021, in partnership with the Alliance for Health Policy, several investigators associated with the Alliance to Advance Patient-Centered Cancer Care joined a diverse panel of presenters to discuss challenges and opportunities to improve the oncology patient experience and promote health equity. For more details on each panel and to view the recorded presentations, please view the event’s webpage here.
The Alliance Shares Considerations to Inform Health Policy
The Alliance to Advance Patient-Centered Cancer Care (Alliance), an initiative funded by the Merck Foundation, comprises six program partners working to advance health equity. Their interventions have demonstrated that multiple components are required to address disparities in cancer care. Interventions implemented by Alliance program partners included technology solutions to identify underserved and at-risk patients, specially trained personnel working with patients to reduce barriers to care, and community partners to support health promotion activities.
Comprehensive, multifaceted programs like these can improve access to high-quality cancer care. State and federal policy strategies are essential to improve cancer care delivery and to support the work of addressing disparities for vulnerable and historically underserved populations.Continue reading
“The health care system is a federation of millions of entrepreneurs with no one in charge. No single entity can command change.”
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, recently released a consensus report that outlines several key strategies to implement a comprehensive national cancer control plan. This ambitious program aims to set a precedent that could help inform the control of other diseases. The study was undertaken by the Committee on a National Strategy for Cancer Control in the United States with support from the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Cancer Society. Alliance Co-Principal Investigator Electra Paskett, PhD, served as a member of the cancer control committee.
The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine are building a technology-based solution to tackle an ongoing challenge in cancer care delivery: effective transition of care (ToC). As Dr. Ahmed Hassoon, Co-Investigator with the Alliance to Advance Patient-Centered Cancer Care, explains, cancer patients often feel lost when they complete their active treatment; they move from intense monitoring and care to a destabilizing transition into survivorship. Studies have shown that patients in transition have a high risk of being readmitted to the hospital following their discharge, with rates of 26 percent for palliative medicine and 27 percent for general medical oncology.
In January 2019, the Policy Task Group for the National Navigation Roundtable released an issue brief entitled, “Patient Navigation in Cancer Care: Review of Payment Models for a Sustainable Future.” This resource outlines the various ways in which patient navigation services are currently funded. Case examples of short-term, long-term, and alternative funding models are given as well as their respective benefits and challenges. Finally, this document provides several recommendations for policy makers, payers, and stakeholders to improve payment models and to promote the sustainability and expansion of patient navigation in cancer care.
Today is World Cancer Day, and the American Cancer Society has dedicated coverage of events around the globe and updates on the state of cancer research.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has recently released data showing that mental illness is a growing, largely unaddressed public health concern. Their findings show that over 44 million adults have mental illness, and of those, 16 million people (including 3.1 million youths aged 12-17) have experienced a major depressive episode.
In this context, oncology and primary care practitioners are striving to attend to their patients’ mental and physical health, monitoring them for signs of mental distress. Although it is common for 20-30% of patients to experience clinically relevant levels of depression or anxiety when receiving a diagnosis of cancer, according to Dr. Kelly Edwards Irwin of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, physicians and patients should not ignore prolonged symptoms of depression. “Depression can be treated effectively with psychotherapy and medication,” she explains. She adds that it is important to address these symptoms because they impact the patient’s quality of life and ability to engage in needed cancer treatment. Continue reading
Dr. Jeff Stone has recently expanded his implicit bias training program and is looking to take his expertise beyond the University of Arizona. The Alliance National Program Office reached out to Dr. Stone to learn more about implicit bias and discuss the impact of his intervention.
In Southern Arizona, the largest population of underserved minority patients is of Hispanic descent. Research shows that, even with all other factors being equal, minority patients are less likely to receive adequate health care. A growing body of research suggests that implicit bias may be one of the factors associated with this finding. Jeff Stone, PhD, from the University of Arizona Cancer Center (UACC), has been working with the University of Arizona College of Medicine (CoM) to train first year medical students to recognize their own bias before they start interacting with patients. According to Dr. Stone, “by understanding the psychology underlying their bias, they [medical students] can learn to control it, no matter who they are interacting with.” The training teaches medical students a variety of techniques that have been shown to reduce bias, helping promote equitable care for all patients. Continue reading