The consolidation of medical services into large systems of care is a major driver of health care economics. For patients with cancer, that may open the door to expert knowledge, cutting-edge treatments like personalized genomics, and clinical trials.
In a survey of the status of care across cancer center networks, some of which reach deep into rural areas, the Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI) has found that many opportunities exist for such networks to increase patient satisfaction and outcomes and decrease treatment delays and risks.
A report based on the survey’s findings was published on March 12, 2021, by the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. The report focuses primarily on the following areas:
- Network distribution across the United States in urban vs. rural sites
- Network site participation in clinical research and dissemination of research to the community
- Access to high-quality care and availability of medical and support services at network sites
- Development of carepaths
- Electronic medical record access between the main cancer center and network sites
- Use of quality measures
The lead author was Stanton L. Gerson, MD, director of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, a consortium NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center including Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute and University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center. Dr. Gerson is also interim dean of the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, an oncologist at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, and a past president of AACI.
“Although optimal cancer care consolidation remains a moving target, opportunities exist to link network sites to initiatives that will improve value, cost efficiencies, and patient outcomes,” Dr. Gerson said.
Of the 69 cancer centers that responded to the survey, 74 percent were National Cancer Institute-designated. Fifty-six reported having network practice sites, defined as “multiple physician practice sites providing clinical inpatient or outpatient care.” Located in the U.S. or abroad, these sites may or may not share branding of the affiliated cancer center, medical center, or university.
The survey and publication of its results are the culmination of Dr. Gerson’s AACI presidential initiative, which aimed to improve cancer centers’ patient care across network sites by providing standardized, evidence-based carepaths; utilizing optimal referral patterns; and providing advanced clinical trials to patients.
Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI)
Gerson, S.L., et al. (2021) Status of Cancer Care at Network Sites of the Nation’s Academic Cancer Centers. Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. doi.org/10.6004/jnccn.2020.7656.