Debra Patt, MD, PhD, MBA, executive vice president of Texas Oncology, discusses how community oncology practices have heightened their outreach efforts to entice patients back in for cancer screenings and the importance of thinking outside the box to overcome staffing shortages in the oncology space.
Debra Patt, MD, PhD, MBA, executive vice president of Texas Oncology, discusses how in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, community oncology practices have heightened their outreach efforts to entice patients back in for cancer screenings and the importance of thinking outside the box to overcome staffing shortages in the oncology space.
Has outreach been effective in getting patients to come back for their mammograms or their colorectal cancer screenings?
Many US Oncology practices have been involved in marketing campaigns to try to heighten awareness of the need for screens. We want people to present with curative cancers. Also, the Community Oncology Alliance has worked with CancerCare to create the Time to Screen campaign. Patti LaBelle was the champion of that campaign. They have a number to call so people can get access to cancer screening, 1-855-53SCREEN [1-855-537-2733]. That was really implemented, and we had a national campaign, to try to heighten awareness that screening was important, that people shouldn’t delay, and to identify resources where people could go to obtain cancer screening in the event that they didn’t know about them.
What can be done to help the health care infrastructure get everybody caught up?
I think it’s a challenge. Understaffing is an issue across health care across the United States, and I think it’s not going away anytime soon. You know, the nursing shortage we were aware of before the pandemic even began, and it was certainly exacerbated by the pandemic—and I imagine will be here for many years to come.
I think we all need to think about how to support our teams and work differently. In my practice, in Texas Oncology and across the US Oncology network, some of that has been thinking about staffing creatively, looking at virtual care positions, looking at alternative staffing models, alternate hours of work, job sharing. So, we need to make sure that we have jobs that are attractive for employees, as it’s a national problem, and I don’t expect it will go away anytime soon.