5 Approaches for Improved Collaboration in Oncology Care

October 21, 2016

Communication gaps complicate healthcare and can devastate the prognosis of a patient undergoing cancer treatment. Here are a few ways to overcome inconsistencies with cancer care delivery

Communication gaps complicate healthcare and can devastate the prognosis of a patient undergoing cancer treatment. Shared decisions on treatment are important, but can take on different meanings depending on what the patient might desire. Care navigation, integrated care, and accountable care delivery are a few approaches that can help tide over unnecessary gaps in cancer care and improve clinical, as well as financial outcomes.

1. Collaboration in the time of accountability

Where do we lack in cancer care today and what steps can we take to improve care delivery? According to Michael Kolodziej, MD, care coordination that involves the oncologist is key. The former national medical director for oncology at Aetna, writes that with healthcare moving toward integrated and accountable care, collaboration is the only path to clinical and financial success.

2. Emphasis on dialogue

Patient-centered care, shared decisions, and seamless care transitions in oncology would be impossible without adequate communication among care providers, patients, and family caregivers. By forcing oncologists to provide patients with a documented care plan, the Oncology Care Model is ensuring patients always have access to all the information they need to make informed care decisions. Panelists discussed this and more during a panel discussion on care gaps in oncology treatment.

3. The doctor—patient communication

The importance of doctor—patient communication is well established. Focus groups conducted with patients and oncologists help unravel why gaps exists and how to customize strategies for improvement. The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship conducted an oncologist—patient focus group to identify the most effective approaches to improve communication and adoption of shared decision making. The results found significant gaps in a variety of care-related decisions.

4. Ensuring the success of innovation in the clinic

When innovative treatments are delivered to patients, the entire team needs to be on board—and this includes not just the care staff, but also the administrative staff. This was the message delivered at the recent Institute for Clinical Immuno-Oncology National Conference in Philadelphia. Novel treatments like the immuno-oncology agents are an unknown territory for everyone involved in patient care, and for successful clinical outcomes, open communication channels among the care team, the patient, and family members is essential. Also, a patient navigator can prove a very valuable resource for the patient, both during active treatment, as well as in the survivorship phase.

5. Bridging the care gap

CareSource is helping to bridge the gap in patient care by bringing together stakeholders with the patient’s care needs at the forefront of the conversation. Karin VanZant, executive director of Life Services at CareSource, told The American Journal of Managed Care® that her organization is working to bring together all resources and ensure that care providers follow a consistent plan.