2013 Innovator Awards Shine “Spotlight on Success” at National Oncology Conference

At the Association of Com­munity Cancer Centers (ACCC) 30th National Oncology Conference, which was held October 2-5, 2013, in Boston before an audience of more than 500 cancer care providers from across the country, 10 cancer programs that developed pioneering solutions to address the challenges of treating patients with cancer received the ACCC’s 2013 Innovator Awards. In keeping with the meeting’s theme, “Spotlight on Success,” the award-winning innovations included creating a portable, secure electronic medical record (EMR) that can travel with a patient in the wake of a natural disaster; a process to streamline cancer patients’ evaluation and management in the emergency room; expanding essential cancer and health screenings through mobile clinics; and improving access to genetic counseling for patients and their family members.

Established in 2011, the In­­novator Awards are sponsored by GE Healthcare to honor ex­­ceptional cancer programs that ex­­hibit forward-thinking strategic planning and have developed pioneering, replicable programs for cancer care delivery.

“Both ACCC and GE Health-care are proud to honor programs that are enhancing community cancer care through progressive, patient-focused tools and strategies,” said Virginia T. Vaitones, MSW, OSW-C, ACCC’s president and an oncology social worker at Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport, Maine. “They will provide inspiration and spark new innovations for all of us working in cancer care.”

The Award Winners

Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Center, Avera Cancer Institute, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. As part of its mission to ensure consistent access to quality care for patients in rural areas, Avera Cancer Institute created a process to unify chemotherapy administration standards across 45 sites by establishing guidelines and standards of practice. Within 9 months of launching the initiative, compliance across all sites that administer chemotherapy was achieved.

Baton Rouge General Medical Center, Pennington Cancer Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Hurricane Katrina left patients with cancer displaced and their treatments disrupted. Just outside of New Orleans, the Pennington Cancer Center received patients with no records. To complicate matters, phone and fax lines were down and treating physicians were unreachable. Taking lessons learned from that experience, the radiation oncology treatment team developed an emergency chart system—a portable EMR that provides patients with their “must-have” documents in a universal jump drive format so that they may quickly resume care if they are displaced by a disaster.

The George Washington University, GW Cancer Institute, Washington, DC. The GW Cancer Institute’s Citywide Patient Navigation Network developed a program that helps patients in vulnerable and underserved populations navigate their cancer treatment. Lay navigators work with a social worker and nurse navigators to guide patients from screening through treatment and into survivorship care. The network served 2840 DC-area residents in 2012—of whom 86% were minority and nearly 30% were uninsured.

Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute, Spartanburg, South Carolina. Patient-centered care requires a holistic approach to patient needs, including palliative care. However, palliative care services are often only available in an inpatient setting, while much of cancer care is delivered in the outpatient setting. This quality improvement initiative integrated a half-day supportive care clinic into the medical oncology practice, expanding palliative care services beyond the inpatient setting. Program successes include increased patient satisfaction and reduced distress symptoms.

Methodist Healthcare System, Methodist Cancer Center, San Antonio, Texas. A multidisciplinary team at the Methodist Cancer Center designed and developed a process for rapid assessment and management of patients with cancer with a low white blood cell count presenting to the emergency department (ED) with symptoms of febrile neutropenia, a potentially catastrophic adverse effect for a patient with cancer who is receiving chemotherapy. The Very Immunocompromised Patient (VIP) Program quickly evaluates and treats oncology patients in the ED. A “VIP Kit” educates patients on when to report to the ED and improves coordination of care with community-based physicians and treating oncologists.

St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute (MSTI), Boise, Idaho. Many accreditation bodies, including the Commission on Cancer, are including the provision of genetic risk assessment in their standards. Providing those living in rural communities access to these services is challenging. MSTI addressed 2 barriers, access to qualified genetic specialists and patient identification, through a 2-pronged approach—telehealth and weekly chart review. The result is improved convenience and access, cost savings, and improved quality of care.

Temple University Hospital, Temple Cancer Program, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Treatment plan delays led to decreased patient satisfaction, care delays, low employee morale, and potential lost revenue. To solve this challenge, an electronic dosimetry “whiteboard” that centrally displays the status of every case increased transparency and communication and identified potential bottlenecks, allowing the staff to make process changes. The whiteboard led to improved patient satisfaction and employee morale as well as increased accountability.

Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital, Fort Worth, Klabzuba Cancer Center, Fort Worth, Texas. When Klabzuba Cancer Center discovered that patients using mobile mammography services had unmet healthcare needs beyond mammograms, they adapted their mobile clinics to provide additional services including cancer, cardiovascular, and bone density screenings, pelvic and clinical breast examinations, and education for each service. By bringing care to work sites and rural locations, the mobile units remove barriers to care access. Partnerships with businesses, government agencies, and other local organizations enable them to provide services to a diverse and widespread population.

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, Dallas, Texas. The Simmons Cancer Center developed CancerGene Connect, a patient-driven online genetic risk assessment program. Patients complete an online family and medical history that allows genetic counselors to calculate their risk before their visit. Using CancerGene Connect cut evaluation and documentation time in half, and expanded the program without increasing staff or compromising patient care.

Winship Cancer Institute, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. Winship Cancer Institute implemented the community-based “Winship at the Y” program in collaboration with the YMCA of Metro Atlanta’s THE COACH APPROACH©. In the first 9 months of the program, almost 100 survivors and caregivers were referred for enrollment. In collaboration with the American Cancer Society, the program also offers cancer awareness and screening activities around Atlanta.

Source: Association of Community Cancer Centers, October 7, 2013

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