Best Practices Improve Cancer Care

Adhering to the best practices in cancer care may be the answer many oncologists have been looking for, at least according to one hospital's findings.

Adhering to the “best practices” in cancer care may be the answer many oncologists have been looking for, at least according to one hospital’s findings.

The St Charles Medical Center in Bend, Oregon, knew their health system had to be changed when a 5-year report showed that the survival rates in patients with breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers were above average, while those with lung cancer remained below average.

“We wanted to get rid of those pockets of questionable care,” medical director Linyee Chang said in an article. “We knew that evidence-based practice was something that was getting a lot of attention, it was throughout the news. And we knew that guidelines exist. And to be able to standardize that best care, we knew that we needed to be able to prove that we were adhering to best practice.”

The center established a committee to analyze care practices from larger cancer hospitals all around the country. After much debate, they settled on adopting guidelines set by the National Comprehensive Network (NCCN). The guidelines help practitioners evaluate choices before making decisions as to what tests or procedures are truly necessary for patients.

However, Bend doctors did take some time to adopt the new guidelines. Dr Stephen Kornfeld, a medical oncologist at St Charles, said, “It was a new approach for me to actually look at guidelines instead of just making a decision off the top of my head. But very quickly they have become so pivotal in my practice. They’re very practical. They are updated frequently. There are guidelines that have already been updated five times in 2013.”

Although not perfect, the guidelines have improved the hospital’s lung cancer survival rate by almost 6%, pushing it higher than the national average. These guidelines have served as a first step towards standardizing quality care.

“I think our attempt to be standardized and follow national guidelines is ahead of the curve,” Dr Kornfeld said. “This is what health care reform would like to happen in cancer across the board and in all other disease states.”

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Bend Hospital Finds 'Best Practices' Improve Cancer Treatment [OPB]