Reorienting Specialty Care
Patient-centered care has garnered attention as a way to deliver true value-based specialty care for cancer patients.
Talk of patient-centered care is widespread, often as shorthand to convey an organization’s awareness of modern healthcare initiatives. However, there are very specific elements that make up a patient-centric approach. Patients are not considered as the objects of care, but as partners in care. Their health care providers “treat patients not only from a clinical perspective, but also from an emotional, mental, spiritual, social, and financial perspective.” 1
Many elements contribute to this healthcare approach, but the most significant ones include better clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction rates by “improving the quality of the doctor-patient relationship, while at the same time decreasing the utilization of diagnostic testing, prescriptions, hospitalizations, and referrals.”2
A patient-centered approach focused on appropriate utilization that is consistent with best practices can lead to improved individual health outcomes. Additionally, providers see higher “satisfaction scores among patients and their families, an enhanced reputation among health care consumers and reduced expenses and increased financial margins throughout the continuum of care.”3
As value-based care becomes the dominant model in healthcare based on its prioritization by CMS, patient-centered oncology care becomes a natural partner in this evolution.4 A key element that effectively implements this approach in a specialty care setting is the use of patient care coordinators (see side bar).Their expertise and understanding of patient-centered care can have an enormous impact not only on outcomes but all aspects of a cancer patient’s journey.
Leveraging Patient Care Coordinators
Community oncology offices are time-challenged and can benefit from specialty services that have well-developed patient support programs. A dedicated team of Patient Care Coordinators (PCCs) who are well-versed in the breadth of these initiatives can be critical in assisting with a patient-centered care approach. These programs can cover patient navigation through ancillary services, nutritional support, symptom consulting and possible palliative/hospice alternatives, clinical trial opportunities and financial assistance from drug companies.
Spotlight: Perspective from Network Operations
What patients programs have the most impact?
We have a dedicated department that helps secure potential financial assistance for patients by filling out and submitting any necessary forms on their behalf. It can significantly reduce out of pocket expenses. We also find that there is a lot of traction with our symptom tracker program that allows patients to contact a nurse 24/7, and the nutrition program sees a lot of engagement.
How is OPN’s PCC initiative unique?
We build a relationship with patients since we talk with them so often. They know someone hears them and is able to assist them with a number of challenges. Our staff provides no care, but connects patients with resources to address their needs and concerns.