Dr Mark Soberman on the Next Generation Multidisciplinary Cancer Care Team

Mark Soberman, MD, MBA, FACS, explains why he chose to focus on creating the next generation multidisciplinary team in cancer care during his 1-year tenure as president of the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC).

Why did you choose “Envisioning Next Gen Multidisciplinary Cancer Care” as the theme of your tenure as ACCC president?
First of all, I’m very passionate about multidisciplinary care, I think patient-centered multidisciplinary care is the absolute right way to care for cancer patients. But when we look at how cancer care is evolving, it’s getting more complex, number 1. So, understanding who else needs to be at the table, who else needs to be part of the care team is important. It used to be that it was traditionally medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgical oncologists, maybe a navigator. Navigator being a very important piece of the puzzle.

But now, for example, with immuno-oncology drugs and targeted therapies and mutational studies that need to be done—now you’ve got toxicities we’ve never seen before and we need the input from other specialists for the toxicity in immuno-oncology. Next-generation sequencing and targeted therapies, we need more help from the pathologist. We need genetic counseling because now we’re identifying genes that can either influence treatment or predict future risk of cancer and may alter the ultimate treatment plan of that patient.

As things get more complex we need more people at the table. And on top of that, as we’re seeing more cancer survivors, we’re seeing more of a demand for cancer care. We have a growing population in the 65-and-older group, which is where cancer most frequently occurs. And concerns about workforce. We need to figure out how we’re going to meet the needs of our patients: whether it’s more advanced providers, such as nurse practitioners and physicians assistances, whether it’s working with their primary care physicians to integrate them into the care team to help. And even educating, for example, going back to immuno-oncology and toxicity, educating our hospitalists, our emergency room physicians to make sure they understand when a patient is on certain types of therapy what needs to be done so the patient doesn’t get misdiagnosed and mistreated. There are so many drivers.

What were some of the strategies that ACCC identified in its recent survey of members regarding multidisciplinary care coordination?
Part of it was education and awareness. Part of it was about creativity and being open minded to bringing different members of the care team in. And really it’s thinking outside the box and not thinking in traditional senses and identifying the need, getting the appropriate stakeholders at the table, figuring out how to engage them and providing some platform so they can collaborate. Those are really the key factors.
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