Thomas Asfeldt Highlights 3 Key Challenges to Creating Integrated Cancer Care Teams

Creating integrated cancer care teams is part of a paradigm shift that requires thinking of care delivery in a different way, explained Thomas Asfeldt, MBA, RN, director of Outpatient Cancer Services at Sanford Cancer Center.

What challenges are care teams facing in cancer as they try to create integrated care teams?
I think it has to do with anything when you’re creating something larger from something smaller. So, as integrated cancer care teams, it’s really part of a paradigm shift. So, the cancer care team of the old way—and that might have been, for some people, last year or it might have been 20 years ago—was the team of, “Here’s my discipline” whether it’s medical oncology or radiation oncology or navigation or nurses, “this is what I do and this is my role and responsibility.” Now that we’re really focused on integrated cancer care teams, it’s “How do I do my job in correlation or correspondence or collaboratively with the rest of the all the other work that’s going on?” So, I think one of the first parts is: How do I think about this new paradigm shift? How do I work really as a part of a team? So how do we think about that?

I think the other thing that we think about that’s a challenge, is resources or time resources. Any time we build something new, you have to take time to do it. So, it’s: do I stop doing something else while I figure out how to do this in a new way? Or do I just take more time out of my day or my week to build this new way of doing things? And, so, I think that’s one of the biggest challenges: the time.

And the other thing that’s a challenge is to really properly evaluate your own system in a realistic way, to say, “We really aren’t very good at doing this; how are we going to do this better? Is that something that we can really do ourselves? Or is that something that we need help from someone on the outside to do it? Or is this something that we’re really not good at doing and we want to allocate this out to another resources to do for us?” Ultimately, you’re there to serve the patient, so when I say “do for us” I mean do for the patient.

So, I think those are probably the 3 biggest challenges. Time pressure, the paradigm shift, and really evaluating what you’re good at and what you need help from someone else to do.
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