How to improve care coordination between main cancer centers, network sites: 4 survey findings

A survey involving some of the country's largest cancer centers found a lack of coordination between main centers and their affiliated sites, according to findings published in the June issue of the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

A 27-question survey was distributed to 69 cancer centers — all members of the Association of American Cancer Institutes — between September 2017 and December 2018. Of those, 56 had at least one network practice site. 

Just over half of the cancer centers said their affiliated practices had full access to their EMRs. Similarly, most main centers did not have complete access to records across their network sites. 

Here are four opportunities to improve care coordination, based on the survey results: 

1. Implement integrated EMRs across networks.

2. Review best clinical care practices, with more rigorous use of care paths and coordination of diagnosis and treatment planning across sites.

3. Give greater attention and support to cancer clinical trials across network sites.

4. Improve physician oversight of clinical and research expectations, hiring, review and other links with main center sites. 

"Many studies show that consistency through care plans and guidelines improves patient outcomes, clinical response, and survival," said Stanton Gerson, MD, lead study researcher and director of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center in Cleveland. "More proactive approaches, including care paths, tumor boards across networks, and recognition of the value of placing disease experts at network sites, will improve the standardization of care across sites."

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