Kelly Filchner on Importance of PCPs in Improving Coordination of Care for Cancer Survivors

April 23, 2020

Many patients when they start their cancer therapy get so ingrained in the cancer world that their oncologist just becomes their main point of contact, but we have to do a better job at letting the patients know that the PCP still is an integral part of their care, said Kelly Filchner, MSN, director at Fox Chase Cancer Center Partners.

Many patients when they start their cancer therapy get so ingrained in the cancer world that their oncologist just becomes their main point of contact, but we have to do a better job at letting the patients know that the PCP still is an integral part of their care, said Kelly Filchner, MSN, director at Fox Chase Cancer Center Partners.

Transcript

Ideally, how can primary care physicians be leveraged to improve coordination of care for cancer survivors?

I think the first thing is that in cancer care, we need to teach patients right from the beginning that their PCP is going to be involved. Many patients when they start their cancer therapy, they get so ingrained in the cancer world, and the oncologist just becomes their main point of contact that they forget that they actually have a PCP, and they want oncology to be fixing everything.

So, if they have diabetes, or they have hypertension, they want the oncologist to take care of those things, but really, their PCP should be doing that. So, I don't think sometimes we do a good job of letting the patients know that the PCP still is an integral part of their care.

How can this in turn affect cancer outcomes and non-cancer outcomes?

There's been a lot of studies looking at Medicare claims and seeing if patients who have cancer versus don't have cancer—how they get their follow up care. So, if somebody has a heart attack, and they also have a cancer diagnosis, are they still getting all the follow up care for the heart attack that somebody without cancer would. So, there's mixed reviews on some of these studies. Some plainly show that the patients who have cancer don't go to those follow ups as much as they should, versus patients who do not have cancer.

In the United Kingdom in particular, the reviews are different. They have a different kind of health system. It's not as fragmented as we have here in the United States. The PCP really drives the care. So, when they did similar studies, out of their databases, claims databases, basically in the UK, they didn't find that—they found that the patients actually got the care that they were supposed to.