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The National Cancer Registrars Association (NCRA) recently asked members on its Facebook page, “Is tumor registry an outdated term?” The responses were spirited and detailed the ways tumor registry and the Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR) credential can be confusing. For example, NCRA members noted that some of their colleagues and patients think they help patients register for treatment or that a CTR “certifies” tumors. There was a strong sense that the current terminology belittles what cancer registrars do, or gives the impression the work is less technically sophisticated than it is. In a time when registrars are struggling...
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Last June, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that nearly 200 physician group practices and 17 health insurance companies had been selected to participate in the Oncology Care Model (OCM), the first oncology-specific alternative payment model (APM) pilot. (According to the latest information on the OCM website, participant numbers now stand at 190 practices and 16 payers.) At about 7 months into this brave new world, participants are beginning to share some lesson learned. At last week’s Cancer Center Business Summit in Las Vegas, a panel discussion on The Oncology Care Model: Evolving Best Practices, shed light on...
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While there can be no single roadmap for transitioning to value-based care, a panel session at the 2017 Cancer Business Summit, February 6-7, 2017, co-hosted by the Association of Community Cancer Centers, focused on Operational & Cultural Change that can help cancer programs move forward on the path ahead. Sarah Chavarria, Chief People Officer, NantHealth, shared that successful organizational alignment is centered around these key concepts: Strategy: mission, vision, and values; organizational goals; brand. Structure: placing the right talent in the right role; holding people accountable for meeting organizational goals. Talent:...
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Last week in Las Vegas, the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) co-hosted the 2017 Cancer Center Business Summit, a two-day conference focused on how the business of oncology is being transformed by the dual drivers of science and technology. Featured speakers and panelists from cancer programs, technology innovators, patient advocate groups, and payers came together to explore how new technology impacts the delivery and future of cancer care. Session topics highlighted clinical pathways, advanced alternative payment models (APMs), patient-centered care, genomic science, and more. Below are highlights from three conference sessions. A session...
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In a feature article in the January/February edition of Oncology Issues , Patsy Astarita, LCSW-C, OSW-C, and Michelle Abramowski, MSN, CRNP, share how the Kaufman Cancer Center in north central Maryland developed a palliative care program from the inside out. Though the existing infrastructure of the Kaufman Cancer Center included some palliative care resources, their challenges in developing the program were similar to those faced by other cancer programs: a dearth of existing funding, a navigation program focused on newly diagnosed patients rather than those at the end of life, and limited outpatient palliative care resources, among others. Despite...
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“We can. I can.” This is the campaign slogan of World Cancer Day, an international campaign focused on increasing cancer awareness on the national, organizational, and individual level. This February 4, 2017, the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) stands shoulder to shoulder with cancer care providers, patients, and families across the globe in recognition of World Cancer Day. Despite advances in diagnosis and treatment, each year more than 8 million people die of cancer worldwide. By the year 2025, this number is projected to increase to more than 11 million. With the approach of World Cancer Day, ACCC salutes its members in...
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FACT #1: The last place that cancer patients and their family want to be is in the hospital. Hospital stays also increase the chances of hospital-acquired infections, which can result in a longer length of stay and complications. FACT #2: Patients and family members do not feel well equipped upon discharge from the hospital, especially when it comes to how to handle procedures at home such as dressing changes, central lines, injections, and drains, just to name a few. Medications can also be very confusing, in particular when there have been changes—adding or removing medications, and/or dosage changes. How can a nurse navigator help? Let’s...
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ACCC Goes to Washington

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ACCC delegation at the White House With the transition to a new administration just days away, the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) this week joined with other leading cancer organizations to speak out for community cancer care providers and the patients they serve. On January 11, the Obama White House, in conjunction with Vice President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot initiative, hosted a morning-long event Making Health Care Better – Community Oncology. ACCC leadership—representing community providers from practices and cancer programs across the country—contributed to the conversation during moderated panel discussions,...
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Commission on Cancer (CoC)-accredited facilities must establish a cancer committee and charge it to develop and monitor all cancer program activities and cancer-education initiatives. The CoC Cancer Program Standards require that the cancer committee has multidisciplinary representation that includes physicians, other allied health professionals, and a cancer registrar. Cancer registrars play a critical role on the cancer committee, since they are the only member who has a complete picture of the facility’s cancer burden in their database. The cancer registrar can serve as the committee’s data expert by analyzing data and bringing those findings...
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As the momentum surrounding immuno-oncology continues to build, the Institute for Clinical Immuno-Oncology (ICLIO) is meeting the need for practical, real-world resources and education for all members of the multidisciplinary cancer care team. Find out how in this just-released ICLIO white paper , which illuminates current progress with these exciting therapies, real-world challenges, and emerging concerns around continued access as immunotherapy moves into the community setting. You’ll want to read Immuno-Oncology: There’s More to Discover for: A concise recap of 2016 immunotherapy clinical highlights An update on ICLIO education,...
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As we head into the New Year, 2016 is rapidly receding in the rear view mirror. Still, it was quite a year. We saw the Obama Administration finalize regulations for sweeping physician payment reform in Medicare, oncology practices nationwide navigate the first year of the Oncology Care Model (OCM) , policymakers try – and fail – to push through drug pricing reform with a national mandatory demonstration program, the 21 st Century Cures Act signed into law, and the drug pricing debate hit a fever pitch, fueled by public scrutiny of recent spikes in drug spending and prompting a range of policy proposals to reduce spending on pharmaceuticals, raising...
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The oncology community continues to follow developments with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) Oncology Care Model (OCM) , a program that aims to improve patient care, efficiency, effectiveness, and lower costs. As participating cancer programs implement the changes mandated by the OCM, increased responsibilities for social work are clear. In fact, under the model, the involvement of, and coordination with, social work is needed in a number of areas. The OCM mandates that all patients receive patient navigation and supportive services during their treatment. These services encompass assistance in a number of areas, including financial,...
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Although patient navigation services are becoming more common at cancer programs nationwide, physicians and administrators still frequently ask, “What are the responsibilities of the navigator?” Navigators coordinate care and remove barriers across the care continuum, which can potentially include many responsibilities. It is very important for navigators to be able to articulate their role concisely so that there is no room for misinterpretation. It is also important to share the Commission on Cancer Standards , Chapter 3: Continuum of Care Services, and navigator competencies/position statements from national organizations such as the Association...
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Survivorship Care Plans are required by facilities accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer (CoC) and the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC). These plans assist patients in being active participants in their post-treatment plan of care. The Survivorship Care Plan (SCP) helps promote continuity of care, provides a plan for future care, alerts the patient to delayed effects long after treatment has concluded, and provides a source document to share with future providers. Having a SCP helps patients maintain appropriate follow-up, such that late effects can be properly managed and recurrences identified and treated...
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I remember when I first started our oncology navigation program in 1998; there were no national standards or core competencies for navigation. The only model I was aware of that followed the patient through different levels of care was the case management model. The goals of the case management model were to coordinate the patient’s care at the appropriate setting while keeping costs down. We discussed the plan of care with the physician and also spoke with the patient and their family to discuss their specific needs and whether their care could be handled at home or whether they needed an alternative care setting or level of care. Fast forward...
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Although it’s been many years since I was a “new oncology nurse,” I still remember those first few days as a new graduate nurse. Nurses touch people’s lives in many ways. They usually spend more time with the oncology patient than the patient’s physician or any other professional caregiver, and can develop a very intimate bond with their patients. Patients and families will remember their nurses for the care they provide during a very difficult time of the patient’s life. The public has a high level of respect and trust in the nursing profession. As a new oncology nurse, you are entering one of the most rewarding professions...
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Healthcare is becoming increasingly complex. With emerging payment models, regulatory initiatives, HCAHPS, and the complexity of electronic health records (many of which don’t communicate with each other), the concept of patient care has changed. How often have patients expressed dismay that their care provider seem more focused on the computer screen than on their needs and concerns? The endless entry of data, best practice alerts, and hard stops that are intended to streamline and improve care have unintentionally added complexity. In fairness to the evolving nature of electronic health records (EHRs), they have added benefits, too. They cannot,...
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A new ACCC white paper, Empowering Patients, Engaging Providers: The Future of Patient-Centered Care in Oncology explores current challenges and barriers, and what’s needed to make headway in improving patient-centered oncology care. Derived from discussion at the ACCC 2016 Institute for the Future of Oncology forum, the report identifies seven elements required to provide true patient-centered care: patient stories, navigation and coordination, interdisciplinary teams, appropriate reimbursement for services rendered, greater education, information technology connectivity and transparency, and decision-support tools. For this blog post, I’d...
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Cancer registrars are data information specialists that capture a complete history, diagnosis, treatment, and health status for every cancer patient in the U.S. These data provide essential information to researchers, healthcare providers, and public health officials to better monitor and advance cancer treatments, conduct research, and improve cancer prevention and screening programs. Registrars collect the data on a daily basis to submit to state cancer registries. States supported by the National Program of Cancer Registries (NPCR) share their data with this national program. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Cancer Surveillance Branch is home to...
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On September 26, 2016, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) made available the 2015 Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) Feedback Reports and the 2015 Annual Quality and Resource Use Reports (QRURs) for every group practice and solo practitioner nationwide. The reports identify providers by their Medicare-enrolled Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), and reflect who satisfactorily reported data on quality measures under PQRS and, in the QRURs , how physicians performed in 2015 on the quality and cost measures used to calculate the 2017 Value Modifier. Importantly, these reports will determine whether a practice or solo practitioner...
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