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Thomas Asfeldt on the Benefits to Patients and Practices of Integrated Cancer Care Teams

While there isn’t a lot of hard science out yet, there have been benefits seen for both patients and practices when integrated cancer care teams are used, Thomas Asfeldt, MBA, RN, director of Outpatient Cancer Services at Sanford Cancer Center.

While there isn’t a lot of hard science out yet, there have been benefits seen for both patients and practices when integrated cancer care teams are used, Thomas Asfeldt, MBA, RN, director of Outpatient Cancer Services at Sanford Cancer Center.


When integrated cancer care teams are done right, what are the benefits to both the patient and the practice or hospital?

There’s not a lot of hard science, yet, to say, “Here, definitely, are the benefits,” but there are certainly some science coming out saying, “Here’s the data, here’s what it shows.” There’s certainly some things that both providers and patients can expect.

For patients, we’ve certainly seen data that shows patients can expect to go from diagnosis to treatment in a much shorter period of time in the integrated cancer care setting. That’s, I think very clear—I’ve seen that in multiple studies and in my own institution and papers that I’ve reviewed that have been published. Patients can also expect that their providers have communicated better, so when they meet with one group—whether that’s a physician or a nonphysician provider or another part of their care team—that they’re getting the same message and that everyone on the care team knows what the plan of care is for the patient. That’s hugely beneficial for the patient. The patient can expect that, ultimately, they’re going to have higher satisfaction with their care because all those pieces are going together.

For the practice, there is benefits, as well. I think the first piece that I’ve seen in our setting is that the providers, I think, have higher practice satisfaction, because they’re in a tight collaboration with all of the other providers. And, so, the professional practice satisfaction goes up, because they’re no longer just working in their tunnel vision, so to speak, or trying to get patients through on a daily basis. But they’re in that regularly collaborative environment with their other colleagues, which is very important.

The second thing that they’ll see, providers, is that there’s going to be less re-work. So, they’re not doing an exam or a test on a patient and then finding out 2 days later that, “Oh, this was done already. Why am I doing this over again when this was already done?” Just simply because they didn’t have the information, or they didn’t know about. So, there’s less work, and that creates more efficiencies. Ultimately, if the practice wants to, when you’re more efficient, they can see more patients in the same amount of time. So, I think that’s also greatly beneficial for the practice.

So, it’s definitely good for patients, and it’s good for the practice. It’s a very collegial environment for the practice, so it’s definitely a positive thing for patients and the environment that we all work in.

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