Oncology Stakeholders Summit, Spring 2015 - Episode 6

Integrating Palliative Care Into Oncology Practice

During this segment, Bruce Feinberg, DO, notes that oncologists commonly question the role of palliative care specialists, as oncologists consider pain management to be part of their job and are often concerned that referring patients to yet another type of oncology professional makes managing a patient’s disease more complex.

Ted Okon, MBA, executive director of the Community Oncology Alliance, remarks that not every patient needs to be referred to a palliative care specialist. Rather, he suggests that palliative care should be integrated into oncology practices.

Every healthcare professional within an oncology practice who contributes to a patient’s care needs to better understand what palliative care truly is, suggests Mr Okon. He adds that many people think that palliative care is end-of-life care, but it is not.

He advises that in many instances, the oncology practice can provide palliative care for patients, and that only patients in unique situations need a referral to a palliative care specialist.

Mr Okon says that the emphasis should always be placed on what is appropriate for the patient. “This is about the quality of life for the patient,” he adds.