The Georgia Cancer Center for Excellence at Grady Health System: Treating People, Not Numbers

Intervention Area: Atlanta Metro Area

ATLANTA – The health care system is complex and often very fragmented. Navigating these increasingly advanced structures requires an expert guide. Patient navigators make sure that patients are getting all the care they need, when they need it most. They assist in setting up appointments, making sure patients have all documentation needed to move forward; they follow patients throughout treatment and assist in creating a survivorship care plan; they provide crucial psychological support through the most distressing phases of cancer treatment. The work of patient navigators is especially vital for underserved and vulnerable populations, who often lack a formal support system and may be overwhelmed by the highly technical nature of modern health care facilities.

The Georgia Cancer Center for Excellence (GCCE) has offered a patient navigator program since 2003, designed exclusively for breast cancer patients and facilitated by lay navigators who are breast cancer survivors themselves. GCCE also has a robust partnership with the American Cancer Society (ACS), which provides a dedicated, full-time patient resource navigator and a part-time client navigator to work with patients across all cancer sites. Thanks to support from the Merck foundation, GCCE has since been able to expand their navigator program, developing a protocol to match newly diagnosed patients with a nurse navigator. Patients are connected to a navigator as soon as they receive test results that indicate a suspicious or positive result. The nurse navigation program focuses on areas with the highest number of patients, lung/thoracic and breast/gynecology, however navigation services are available to all cancer patients.

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NASEM Releases New Report on Cancer Control

“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.

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How Technology is Streamlining Transition of Care

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.

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Alliance to Advance Patient-Centered Cancer Care Webinar

The Oncology Care Model: Implications for Cancer Care Delivery and Payment Reform

Cancer care is very expensive, and the cost is rising at an unsustainable rate. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reported that medical expenditures related to cancer are expected to stretch to $158 billion in the year 2020. Cancer patients receiving systemic therapy represent the group with the highest costs. The Oncology Care Model is the largest medical subspecialty alternative payment model developed and administered by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. This pilot program, launched in July 2016, aims to improve the delivery of cancer care while controlling costs by holding providers responsible for the total cost of care. Many of the changes in care delivery required to succeed in this program involve fundamental practice transformation. In this webinar, Dr. Michael Kolodziej will discuss the rationale for this model, results to date, as well as a forecast for the ultimate results of the model. He will also project the next stage of cancer care payment reform.

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NNRT Releases Issue Brief on Patient Navigation

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.

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World Cancer Day 2019: I Am and I Will

Cancer causes about 1 in every 6 deaths worldwide, more than AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined. Today, it is the second-leading cause of death (following cardiovascular diseases) worldwide.

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.

Find more information on the global cancer burden and the fight against cancer here.

Alliance to Advance Patient-Centered Cancer Care Webinar

Life After Grant Funding: Making the Business Case for Your Intervention

Many grant proposals require a plan for sustainability, carrying the expectation that a funded program will continue to be viable once the start-up resources have run out. This can be a challenging proposition for medical researchers, who have to run their interventions while identifying all direct and indirect financial benefits of their work. Drawing from his international research experience, Dr. J. Brian Cassel will discuss his approach to developing long-term funding models in palliative care, presenting universal considerations that could assist researchers in maintaining clinical and quality-improvement programs that expand access to care.

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Caring for Cancer Patients with Serious Mental Illness: A Patient-Centered Roadmap

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

Alliance to Advance Patient-Centered Cancer Care Webinar

A Report from the National Navigation Roundtable: The State of Patient Navigation Today

According to the American Medical Association, a patient navigator is someone who provides personal guidance to patients as they move through the health care system. Patient navigators may have professional medical, legal, financial, or administrative experience, or they may have personally faced health care-related challenges and want to help others who find themselves in similar situations1.

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