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ACOA Addresses Quality and Accreditation in Oncology

July 2012, Vol 2, No 4
Dawn Holcombe, MBA, FACMPE, ACHE
President, DGH Consulting, South Windsor, CT

Chicago, IL—Oncology program administrators from across the country gathered in Chicago on June 21 and 22 at the American College of Oncology Administrators (ACOA) 2012 annual conference. The attendees of this meeting, held in the conference center of the American College of Surgeons, braved summer temperatures to focus on quality and accreditation issues in cancer care.

The conference was co-hosted by the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer (COC) and celebrated the 20th anniversary of ACOA, a specialty group of the American Academy of Medical Administrators (

The keynote and concurrent session speakers focused on how cancer programs can quantify, track, and prove quality in a value-based purchasing world. An afternoon preconference session with Virtua Fox Chase Cancer Center leaders tackled the thorny issue of demystifying quality metrics, illustrating multiple current measures in place at the center, as well as in other market sources.

A moving session from a cancer care survivor (here) reminded attendees of why they were there, and how the patient perspective can influence quality program choices in treatment and care delivery.

One of the most prevalent oncology quality measurement programs in America today is the Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI) program (click here), developed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The QOPI program and its new initiatives were presented by an ASCO leader, and detailed descriptions by 2 active QOPI participants brought the program and its contributions to the quality of cancer care to conference attendees on a very personal basis.

Other keynote programs concentrated on recent changes in the COC accreditation process, how to effectively utilize consultants in times of rising demands and shrinking resources, and preparing for a shift from volume to value in cancer services.

Some of the concurrent conference sessions addressed current updates regarding drug shortages, growth of patient satisfaction, integrated palliative care, healthcare reform, institutional partnerships and affiliations, and the journey of the cancer patient.

Networking among the cancer program leaders and the thought leaders throughout the program led to speculation about the pending decision by the US Supreme Court on healthcare reform, but more frequently to speculation about the challenges that individual programs were having in satisfying their own needs for defining quality and developing appropriate metrics for discussions of quality.

The conference closed with invitations to participate in next year’s program— to be held April 10-12, 2013, in Las Vegas, NV.

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