Dr Mark Soberman on the Importance of Communication Among Integrated Care Teams

Communication is critical in providing integrated, comprehensive care, said Mark Soberman, MD, MBA, FACS, former president of the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC).

What is the importance of communication among integrated care teams? How do you prevent a communication breakdown?
You can’t overestimate the importance of communication. That communication needs to happen because there needs to be an integrated, comprehensive, and coordinated approach to the care of that patient. You have to agree upon the work-up and staging and diagnosis of the patient, because that’s key. You have to agree upon and create an integrated care plan for that patient. And then you need to understand what the follow-up and survivorship plan is for that patient. And that communication needs to happen because you need to be one the same page, you need to be sure that everybody has a consensus about what is the right care plan for that patient, and then you have to agree upon the stage, you have to agree upon the treatment plan, and you need to also make sure that you’re communicating one another so you don’t have duplications in care that drive up costs unnecessarily.

Now, how do you do that? There are multiple different ways. And one of the things that we’ve talked about in the Institute for the Future of Oncology that we had in July 2017 in Washington, DC—this was related to my theme as president, which was Creating the Next Generation Cancer Care Multidisciplinary Team—is utilizing different platforms in order to do this. So, either partnering with health systems, utilizing technology platforms, creating virtual tumor boards, physical tumor boards, video tumor boards, anything that you can do to assemble a team around and have them communicate with one another.

Integrated EHRs would be another great step in the right direction. The problem, of course, is we’ve seen throughout the sessions [at the ACCC 44th Annual Meeting & Cancer Center Business Summit] is that we have a lot of barriers with EHRs that don’t talk to one another. But the fact is, it’s on the radar screen of cancer providers. ACCC is one of the organizations that is really pushing this effort and this agenda to make sure we do the right thing for patients, because, ultimately, that’s what we all want to do.
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