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Collaboration Between Oncology and Primary Care Can Improve Cancer Screening and Prevention, Says Susan Sabo-Wagner


Moving screening and prevention care more upstream can help make an impact by getting patients diagnosed with cancer earlier, said Susan Sabo-Wagner, MSN, RN, OCN, executive director of clinical strategy for Oncology Consultants of Houston, Texas.

Screening and prevention of cancer needs to be a collaborative effort between oncology practices and primary care providers, explained Susan Sabo-Wagner, MSN, RN, OCN, executive director of clinical strategy for Oncology Consultants of Houston, Texas.


Is there a way for oncology practices to partner with primary care providers to put more focus on screening and prevention?

This is a big initiative that we want to work with in our HOPE Initiative, eventually. We're starting right at the door when the patient is diagnosed, coming into our practice. We know that we can only make so much of an impact when a patient is diagnosed with cancer, right? However they come to us, if it's stage IV, if it's stage III, if it's stage I; however they come. We know, obviously, it would be much better if we can prevent it from being a stage IV, stage III, and that comes from screening and education and wellness and behavioral health.

One of the things that we believe is that if we can get our model upstream into primary care, the best way we can do that is if we can provide it in some kind of payer model so that people are actually incentivized to be able to do things like screening and prevention care and get out there and provide health literacy. Get out into the neighborhoods… we can see it on a map, who is not getting out there to get screened. So, if we can provide it in some kind of model where it is an entire package of primary care with specialty involved, and everybody is making their impact and being incentivized for it; while it sounds like a nice thing to do, making sure everybody's getting screened and getting their chronic illnesses and cancers caught early, it also will have to show some kind of [return on investment], and it has to be good for business and we believe that it can be. We believe that that's what is part of a really true value-based model.

If everyone got on board, we know there's research already out there, there's tons of research that shows the earlier that you intervene in a person's life, the better the outcomes are. As a cancer care center, we know that our specialty is an incredibly expensive specialty, but we didn't start it that way. We’re doing the best we can in terms of treating it and trying to keep costs down. But, we think that—not that someone else should do it and only them—we think that as a group from beginning to the end, we can all have an impact there.

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