Category Archives: Across the Nation

Patient-Centered Approaches to Improving Population Health

 

by Susan van der Sommen, MHA, CMPE, FACHE

Crowd of multidisciplinary people-for webAn increasingly prevalent term in our health-related vocabulary is “population health.”  Every journal or health-related article uses the term as if it is widely understood. So what is it, really? How will we measure it and, more importantly, improve it?

The oft-quoted article by Kindig and Stoddart (2003), “What is Population Health?”  defines population health as “the health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group.”  Whereas others have also sought to define the term, in my readings and research, I have yet to come across a more comprehensive—yet startlingly straightforward—explanation.  In his paper, Population Health in the Affordable Care Act Era, Michael Stoto, PhD, notes that despite differing definitions, the term “population health” is seen by many as an opportunity to connect healthcare delivery systems with community-based organizations, public health departments, and other entities to reach community members that may not access the traditional healthcare system effectively and/or receive the care they need.

Leaders at the Duke Cancer Institute  in Durham, North Carolina, have adopted a new approach to research and patient-centered care; that is, collaborating with local community members and groups to improve education, outreach, and access for their most disparate – and often underserved – populations. Their patient-centered approach, designed to assess and respond to community needs, increase participation in clinical trials (particularly for minority populations), and mitigate care gaps, is being implemented as part of a five-step strategic plan. At the core of the plan is the development of a Community Advisory Council, inclusive of community partners and patients, and the broad dissemination of findings in their robust community needs assessment. Resulting from these two initiatives was a prioritization of program and research activities with further development of programs and partnerships focused on the highest priorities defined by the council’s work. Of course, measurement and evaluation is at the core of all population health initiatives – and is the fifth component of Duke Cancer Institute’s strategic plan. Learn more.

The Duke Cancer Institute is seeking to meet the health needs of their population in a manner that is pertinent to all cancer centers and healthcare organizations. Defining a population’s needs through community partnerships and patient involvement is the key to being able to measure and ultimately improve health outcomes.

In a more widespread population health initiative,  ACCC has recently launched its Optimal Care Coordination Model for Lung Cancer Patients on Medicaid project with support from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. Research shows that minority and socio-economically disadvantaged individuals have higher incidence of cancer, are diagnosed at a later stage, and have a higher mortality rate. To address this unmet need, ACCC is currently partnering with five ACCC-member programs located in different geographic regions throughout the U.S. These programs are serving as Development Sites, helping ACCC document the current state of care coordination for Medicaid patients with lung cancer. This will help inform draft principles for development of a model for a more comprehensive, evidence-based approach to care coordination, access, and health equity for Medicaid patients with lung cancer. Read more about this exciting initiative in the September/October issue of Oncology Issues.

Make plans to attend the 2016 National Oncology Conference  in St. Louis, Missouri from October 19-21 to learn best practices from your colleagues at cancer programs across the country.


Susan  van der Sommen, is Executive Director, DSRIP, Bassett Healthcare Network, and Chair of the ACCC Editorial Committee.

CMS Eases MACRA Quality Payment Program Timeline

By Leah Ralph, Director of Health Policy, ACCC

Centers_for_Medicare_and_Medicaid_Services_logoIn response to considerable pressure from industry stakeholders, medical groups and policymakers, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced last week that it would provide increased flexibility for practices to report out and comply with new data and performance requirements under the Quality Payment Program (QPP), created by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) passed last year.

In a blog post titled “Plans for the Quality Payment Program in 2017: Pick Your Pace,” Acting CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt lays out four pathways to compliance with the new Quality Payment Program (in order of easiest to the hardest):

  • Report some data.  Providers can avoid a negative penalty by submitting some data as required by the Quality Payment Program, including data from after January 1, 2017. CMS states this option is “designed to ensure that your system is working and that you are prepared for broader participation in 2018 and 2019.” This option allows you to avoid a negative payment adjustment in 2019.
  • Participate for only part of the calendar year. Providers may submit data as required by the Quality Payment Program for a reduced number of days (not the whole year), and the performance period could begin after January 2017. Under this option, you could still qualify for a small positive payment adjustment in 2019.
  • If you’re ready to go in 2017, participate for the full calendar year. For practices that are ready to go and choose this option, their performance period will begin January 1, 2017, and they will submit data under the Quality Payment Program for a full year. These practices will qualify for a modest positive payment adjustment in 2019. CMS expects many practices will be able to do this.
  • Participate through an Advanced Alternative Payment Model (APM).** While the three previous options would fall under the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) track, the fourth option allows providers who are receiving a certain percentage of Medicare payments or seeing a certain number of Medicare patients through a qualifying APM (the provider is taking two-sided or “more than nominal” risk) to participate through the Advanced APM track. These providers would qualify for a 5% incentive payment in 2019 in addition to any savings produced through the APM and would not be subject to MIPS requirements. (**Remember CMS lays out a very high bar to qualify for the APM track in the proposed rule: 90% of physicians are expected to choose MIPS).

Until 2019, physicians will see an annual 0.5% increase in payments, at which point payments will then be determined by performance in the Quality Payment Program either through MIPS or an advanced APM.

CMS has said the decision to provide leniency was in recognition of the “wide diversity of physician practices.” The agency has also said it is considering alternative start dates, shorter performance periods, increased flexibility for small or rural practices, and finding other ways for physicians to get more experience with the program requirements before being penalized.

CMS originally proposed that providers begin to report on measures outlined under the Quality Payment Program in January 2017 but that payments would not reflect that performance period until 2019. However with the new guidance from CMS, the easiest option essentially does not require real provider participation in 2017, but allows providers to test whether their systems are ready to fully participate in the future. While the details of the measures will remain unclear until a final rule is released, the Quality Payment Program will require practices to submit information on quality measures, how they use technology, and what improvement activities they are undertaking.

Through our comments to the agency in  June, ACCC advocated for increased flexibility and more time for physicians to prepare for undertaking the new requirements under the Quality Payment Program. We also asked the agency to restructure the APM requirements so that they are more achievable.

We commend CMS for releasing flexibility prior to a final rule on MACRA, which we expect to see later this fall, and ask for continued accommodations for practices that face myriad new requirements in the coming months and years.

CMS Coding Flexibility Ends October 1

Form-with-stethoscopeBy Cindy Parman, CPC, CPC-H, RCC

When the implementation of the ICD-10-CM coding classification became effective on Oct. 1, 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) promised not to consider the reporting of an unspecified diagnosis code an audit error. This grace period was a limited benefit at best, since providers don’t want to be audited at all and when audited, diagnosis coding is often the least of their worries. As a result, CMS appeared to be benevolent and all providers (falsely) believed that diagnosis codes were not as important as procedure codes. Effective Oct. 1, 2016, this flexibility period will end, although the close of this grace period actually changes nothing.

However, on Oct. 1, 2016, updates to the ICD-10-CM Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting go into effect, which will add more than 1,900 new diagnosis codes to the classification. Given the need for specific diagnosis codes, hospitals, physician practices and freestanding cancer centers should consider the following:

  • Clinical documentation should be as specific as possible to ensure that all patient medical conditions are fully described. Many facilities implemented clinical documentation improvement programs prior to the implementation of ICD-10 and it may be necessary to revisit this training.
  • All providers will be required to code to accurately reflect the clinical documentation in as much specificity as possible. ICD-10-CM has more detailed and specific codes than in the prior classification, which improves the accuracy of patient classification.
  • Although unspecified codes will continue to be accepted when there is a lack of clinical information, they should be avoided when possible. Medical coders should query the physician when nonspecific information is included in the medical record to ensure that the patient’s conditions and illnesses are fully classified.
  • Diagnosis codes frequently report the medical necessity for the service performed and should be as accurate and complete as possible. Providers should concentrate documentation efforts on the diagnoses treated most often and denials should be carefully reviewed to ensure coverage requirements are met.
  • As physician reimbursement shifts from fee-for-service to a quality and/or value-based payment system, reporting all primary medical conditions, comorbidities, and complications will ensure accurate reimbursement.

Since most, if not all, of the major insurers did not adopt any type of diagnosis coding flexibility over the past year, providers should already be fully documenting the patient’s medical condition and reporting all diagnosis codes at the highest degree of specificity. The updated CMS ICD-10-CM FAQs page is located here .


Guest blogger Cindy Parman, CPC, CPC-H, RCC, is a principal at Coding Strategies, Inc., Powder Springs, Ga.  She authors the “Compliance” column for Oncology Issues, the journal of the Association of Community Cancer Centers.

Will Spending More on Healthcare Result in Better Cancer Outcomes?

by Chad Schaeffer, MS, FACHE

Healthcare costsA recent study published in the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network finds that spending more on healthcare does not always correlate to better outcomes.  The authors of the article, “Wealth, Health Expenditure, and Cancer: A National Perspective,” studied different areas of the U.S. and looked at the wealth, spending, and cancer outcomes for breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and all cancers.1

The researchers, led by Dr. Jad Chahoud, point out that in 2013 the U.S. spent $2.9 trillion on healthcare—more than any other country—yet ranked 27 in life expectancy compared with the 34 countries that comprise the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).  Their conclusion is that the U.S. healthcare system is flawed by an unequal resource allocation and socioeconomic disparities. This has long been the case when the U.S. is compared to many European countries, which have universal healthcare or a single-payer system and access to healthcare is often more consistently available to all citizens.

However, things get very interesting when the researchers compare different regions within the U.S. and find differences in cancer outcomes. When looking at colorectal cancer and all cancers, the common theme is that wealthier states, such as New York, Illinois, and California, tended to have better outcomes compared to the least wealthy states, such as Mississippi, West Virginia, and Alabama. The wealthier states spent more per capita, but not necessarily for healthcare. For instance, West Virginia spent more on healthcare per capita ($7,667.14) than Illinois ($6,756.36), but the outcomes for colorectal and all cancers are better in Illinois.

 

 

State

Mortality/Incidence Ratio (colorectal cancer) Mortality/Incidence Ratio
(all cancers)
Illinois 0.3652 0.3823
West Virginia 0.3936 0.4306

Yet for breast cancer, the researchers discovered that paying more did correlate with better outcomes.  They surmise that this could be the result of effective breast cancer screenings and an overall high level of breast cancer awareness.

Takeaways

As I read the article and the findings from the study, two or three points come to mind. The first point is that since the extra spending on healthcare was effective for breast cancer, and—if the authors are correct that screening was a major factor—this could be good news for colorectal cancer if we can continue to improve screening rates. The second point is that with the new emphasis from Medicare and other payers on paying for quality, perhaps there will be an improved value in our healthcare system, leading to better outcomes. The last thought is that with the Affordable Care Act in place for several years and more Americans now having health insurance, and with a greater emphasis on screenings, would this potentially change the outcomes?  It is too early to say for certain, but if screenings rates improve, this will likely make a difference in overall outcomes.  We will have to wait and see.

References
Chahoud J, Rieber AG, Semaan A. Wealth, health expenditure, and cancer: A national perspective. J Natl Compr Cancer Netw. 2016;14:972-978.


ACCCBuzz contributing blogger Chad Schaeffer, MS, FACHE, is Executive Director of the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center at Cabell Huntington Hospital. He serves on the ACCC Editorial Committee.

Three Ways to Support Your Cancer Registrars

By Linda Corrigan, MHE, RHIT, CTR

Check boxCommission on Cancer (CoC) Cancer Program Standards 2016 are designed to ensure a comprehensive approach to the care and treatment of patients. Cancer programs seeking CoC accreditation must demonstrate that they’ve met or exceeded these standards—many of which require data tracking. Your cancer registrar can assist your clinicians in designing the best “tracking tool” for your program. For many programs, the best tool will be your cancer registry software. Cancer registrars well-versed in high quality data collection are key to the success of a cancer program. In turn, there are three critical ways your program can support its cancer registrars:

  • Make sure your cancer registrars are up-to-date by supporting training and continuing education opportunities. Change is a constant in the world of oncology. Treatments are advancing, CoC standards are added and/or revised, and state cancer registry data-collection guidelines are updated annually. A prime example of this constant change is the American Joint Committee on Cancer’s (AJCC) soon-to-be-released Cancer Staging Manual. The new 8th edition, scheduled for publication in October 2016, will revise how cancer is staged.
  • Encourage your cancer registrars to get involved in state and national organizations and provide funds for them to attend meetings and conferences. The key to helping your cancer registrar stay current is networking and continuing education. Some registrars have as many as three separate organizations and/or federal agencies that “set” the standards for exactly how and what data are collected from a facility’s cancer program. Cancer registrars who attend national conferences and state meetings or who are encouraged to volunteer for national and state-level organizations develop a network of colleagues from across the country that can be tapped as a resource when your program has questions.
  • Staff your cancer registry appropriately. The best way to support and retain your cancer registrar and to ensure high-quality data collection is to make sure you have the staffing bandwidth for the number of cancer cases your facility manages each year. Review NCRA’s Workload and Staffing Study: Guidelines for Hospital Cancer Registry Programs to help assess your staffing needs.

The National Cancer Registrars Association (NCRA) and the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) are two national associations that can help cancer programs support their cancer registrars. NCRA’s Annual Educational Conference provides a thorough and cost-effective way for cancer registrars to stay informed and to network. Attendees learn about updates to treatments and staging, CoC standards, clinical trials, and national trends. The 2017 conference, scheduled for April 5-8, in Washington, D.C., will focus on the AJCC’s 8th edition of the Cancer Staging Manual. Look for conference updates on the NCRA website here.  NCRA’s Center for Cancer Registry Education is a learning management system designed to provide easy access to high-quality educational programming. The website offers a variety of online products to help registrars tailor training and manage the continuing education credits needed to maintain their Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR) credential.

ACCC is also a great resource for cancer registrars. ACCCExchange, the association’s online member discussion forum, connects registrars with peer-to-peer solutions, strategies, and resources for how to best meet CoC standards. ACCC’s journal Oncology Issues provides in-depth articles on programmatic innovations implemented by ACCC member programs, coding updates, and advocacy issues—and can be a valuable resource for registrars to better understand advancements in cancer treatment and care. Coming in October, the ACCC 33rd National Oncology Conference in St. Louis will focus on practical “how to’s” for cancer programs and practices, with peer-to-peer learning on process improvement strategies, putting data to work to improve care, and more. Learn more here.

Contributing blogger ACCC member Linda Corrigan, MHE, RHIT, CTR, is president, National Cancer Registrars Association.

Tap Into the Expertise of Your Cancer Registrar

By Linda Corrigan, MHE, RHIT, CTR

ThinkstockPhotos-507273299Hospitals understand their cancer registry data are sent to state and federal agencies to document incidence rates and to identify cancer clusters. But many may not be realizing the full potential of their cancer registry database, a goldmine full of information that can help your facility. Hospital-specific data provide a wealth of information that can assist with financial and strategic planning, assessing timeliness of treatment, understanding survival rates, conducting community needs assessments, and implementing targeted marketing initiatives.

As the custodians of your data, cancer registrars know it better than anyone and can see trends as they happen. Make sure to include your cancer registrar in meetings and ask for updates. Tap into your cancer registrar’s expertise and put your data to work. Your cancer registrar can:

  • Help your program justify additional staff. For example, by monitoring case volume by site, year, and insurance coverage, your cancer registrar can supply data to make the case for adding physicians to your cancer program.
  • Run reports to identify patterns (or specifics) about who is seen in your cancer program by identifying referring physicians or hospitals. These data can help track trends in patient retention as well as outmigration.
  • Assist with quality improvement/process improvement initiatives. For instance, time to treatment is a frequent target for cancer program improvement efforts. Your cancer registrar can do a deep data dive into your patient population and uncover the exact profile of those patients experiencing the greatest delays.
  • Collect specific data to generate custom reports through user-defined fields in the database. What data do you want to collect? Many registrars have already started reviewing patients seen in the beginning of 2016, so now is the time to talk with your cancer registrar about any additional data you may need for future reports.
  • Compare your data (demographics and disease-site specific data) to that housed in several other national databases.
  • Support your Cancer Committee with data that identifies your patient population and specific health disparities in your service area as the triennial Community Needs Assessment is being completed.

These are just some of the many ways the expertise of your cancer registrar can support your cancer program. An upcoming ACCCBuzz blog post will explore the evolving role of cancer registrars and how your oncology program can support registrars as an integral member of the cancer care team.


ACCC Member Linda Corrigan, MHE, RHIT, CTR, is currently serving as President of the National Cancer Registrars Association.  Learn about the NCRA Annual Education Conference, April 5-7, 2017, here.  Explore NCRA’s Center for Cancer Registry Education here.  The January/February 2016 Oncology Issues features, “Unlock the Potential of the Cancer Registrar,” an article co-authored by Ms. Corrigan that describes how cancer registrars can support lung screening programs within community cancer centers.

MACRA Update—Will CMS Delay the Start Date?

By Brittney Fairman, Policy Analyst, ACCC

Calendar pages and clockLast week Andy Slavitt, Acting Administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), told the Senate Finance Committee that the agency was considering “alternative start dates,” for Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) after receiving more than 3,000 comments on its proposed rule implementing the Quality Payment Program. The final rule is expected in November, leaving only a few months before the proposed reporting start date of January 1, 2017. Slavitt also said the agency is taking a close look at how the proposed rule would impact rural and small providers, particularly the low volume threshold that would exempt small practices from certain reporting requirements.

In our June 27 comment letter on the MACRA proposed rule, ACCC urged CMS to:

  • Delay implementation for six months to one year, to give physicians the time needed to build infrastructure and implement the Quality Payment Program effectively
  • Ensure that the agency provides adequate accommodations and protections for small group practices and solo practitioners
  • Modify the “resource use” methodology to ensure that eligible clinicians are held responsible only for the costs they can control
  • Include all Oncology Care Model (OCM) quality measures in MIPS
  • Refine the APM requirements to offer a meaningful alternative to MIPS and adopt policies to promote the availability of a wide variety of APMs and Physician-Focused Payment Models (PFPMs).

With this proposed rule, CMS aims to transition Medicare to a new physician payment program focused on quality, value, and accountability over volume. The MACRA legislation enacted by Congress outlines essentially two separate payment pathways for physicians under Medicare: The Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), and the Alternative Payment Models (APMs). Both pathways are intended to drive the development of value-based payment. ACCC supports payment reform efforts; however, it is critical that CMS construct these pathways so that they are realistic, achievable avenues to Part B reimbursement.

ACCC will continue to keep members informed as MACRA implementation unfolds. For a deeper dive on new requirements under the Quality Payment Program, ACCC members can access the recent ACCC webinar, “MACRA CMS Proposed Rule: What You Need to Know” on demand (login required). The American Medical Association (AMA) has created a MACRA Checklist that outlines steps providers can take now to prepare, as we await the final rule.

Patient Navigation—Process Mapping by Disease Site

By Tricia Strusowski, MS, RN

ThinkstockPhotos-467463476For this patient navigation blog post, let’s talk about a recent hot topic on ACCCExchange, the online discussion forum for ACCC members: At what point in the care continuum do you initiate navigation and support services?

Many cancer programs have a difficult time identifying when to initiate these services. Cancer programs know that staff are duplicating services, but they don’t want anything to fall through the cracks for patients and their families. At busy cancer programs, staff may be challenged to find the time to sit down and work out these details. Plus, getting all the healthcare professionals together for one more meeting can be a daunting task. Cancer programs want to provide the best experience for their patients while utilizing staff efficiently. One way to support this goal is by involved the entire team in creating a disease-site-specific process map to review the continuum of care; discuss staff roles and responsibilities; identify gaps, barriers, opportunities for improvement; and goals of care—all with the patient at the center of the discussion. Simply put: Increasing communication among the team and decreasing duplication for the patient.

Who Should Participate?

Ideally, the team participating in the disease-site mapping process should be representative of the offices and departments that will touch the patient during his or her journey. Keep in mind: You need to include the “worker bees,” the staff who really know the details of the patient flow. Let’s consider a head and neck cancer patient for example. In this instance, the following individuals should be invited to participate:

  • Surgery
  • Medical oncology
  • Radiation oncology
  • Inpatient unit case manager and/or discharge planner
  • Speech/swallowing therapist
  • Navigator
  • Social worker
  • Financial counselor
  • Behavioral health
  • Rehabilitation/Prehabilitation
  • Dental office
  • Others (We all know there is always someone we forget to invite!)

Plan your first session for 1.5 to 2 hours. Admittedly, this may be a challenge to schedule but it can be done, and the results will be amazing. Utilizing a large paper flowchart (i.e.,15 feet long x 4 feet wide), the group needs to talk through and record the process starting at the patient’s earliest point of entry. Each detail must be discussed, including length of time from one episode of care to the next, delays, gaps, and opportunities for improvement. Encourage participants share their goals during the discussion and write everything down!

Revisit & Revise

Process mapping exercises are not a one-and-done experience. It takes several meetings to review and revise the process map. There may be key individuals or a process that are missed in a previous session; no big deal, add them to the group. A great facilitator is key to keep the team on task and keep the discussion moving.

After the entire disease-site process is complete, overlay when you would like the navigator and the support staff to intervene. Remember: the goal is to provide the intervention as soon as possible, hopefully in a proactive manner so that you are “staying one step ahead of the patient.” Incorporate when you would like to initiate the distress screening process, identifying periods of highest distress for the patient/family.

The draft process map is also an excellent tool to share with the disease-site-specific healthcare providers who are often are not aware of all the details, delays, and opportunities to enhance the patient experience. Further, your process map will also be excellent tool for on-boarding new staff and for succession planning. Review and update your process map on a bi-yearly or annual basis.

 Go Team!

I always share that the disease-site-specific team is like a football team; the better all the players understand everyone’s role and how to best support the patient and each other, the stronger the team will be. Every team always wants what is best for the patient. The mapping process is a valuable approach to not just identify gaps or delays in the care continuum, but to also then go the extra mile to identify “what is best for the patient.”

Work smarter not harder; teamwork makes the dream work!

________________________________________________

Guest blogger Tricia Strusowski, MS, RN, is a consultant with Oncology Solutions, LLC.

Meals or Mammograms? A Decision No One Should Have to Make

By Renea Duffin

Guest blogger Renea Duffin is Vice President of Cancer Support and Outreach, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Baton Rouge, LA .

Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center Mobile Medical Clinic

Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center Mobile Medical Clinic

For many people living in Southeast Louisiana, choosing between paying for a mammogram (or other preventive health screening) or a meal for their family is a decision that can lead to a late- stage cancer diagnosis. And, unfortunately, this happens far too often in many Louisiana communities. Read on to learn how Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, a 2016 ACCC Innovator Award winner, has grown its outreach and screening efforts to improve early detection of cancer for the medically underserved.

Collaboration for Comprehensive Outreach

In Louisiana, one in five residents live in poverty, so it is no surprise the state’s cancer mortality rate is the fourth highest in the nation. There are only three other states with a greater uninsured population. In 2002, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center began its comprehensive community outreach program to address Louisiana’s disproportionate cancer death rates. Through this innovative initiative, the Center collaborates with many community partners and generous donors to provide free breast, prostate, colorectal, skin and oral cancer screenings for the underserved, underinsured and uninsured members of our 18-parish service area.

Integrating Patient Navigation to Improve Access

As the program continued to grow and evolve, it became evident that not only were screening participants medically underserved, but they faced many other barriers to care such as low health literacy levels, unreliable transportation, and other restricting socioeconomic factors. This led to the implementation of a patient navigation program in 2008 that assists patients receiving an abnormal screening result in accessing additional testing, physician specialists, financial resources, as well as removing other barriers to care.

By the Numbers—Education, Screening, & Early Detection

The following are some additional facts and information about the Center’s education and early detection program:

  • Each year, two mobile medical clinics deliver more than 8,000 free screenings for five types of cancer.
  • More than 74,000 screenings provided and 503 cancers diagnosed since 2002. The Cancer Center’s screening program rate of cancer diagnoses is nearly double the national rate per 1,000 adults screened.
  • Provides screenings outside regular business hours in convenient locations and in areas where they are most needed. Locations and populations are targeted based on zip code data using a powerful database solution.
  • Average time from screening to resolution (diagnosis or all clear) is 10 days compared to the national standard of care, which is 60 days. This expedited timeline is due to collaborative, close working relationships with service providers and the patient navigator’s hands-on approach to patient interactions.

After over a decade of providing education, early detection and navigation services to the medically underserved, we know there is still much to do. We constantly reassess our programs and strategies to ensure we are meeting the needs of those we serve in the hope there will be a day when no one must choose between accessing healthcare services and feeding their family.

At the upcoming ACCC 33rd National Oncology Conference October 19-21, in St. Louis, Missouri, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center and all the 2016 ACCC Innovator Award winners will describe their inspirational approaches to complex challenges in delivering quality care to serve their communities. View conference agenda and register today!

ACCC Members Bring Sun Safety Awareness to their Communities

by Amanda Patton, ACCC Communications

453142595May is designated as Skin Cancer Awareness Month and the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention has named today “Don’t Fry Day” to encourage sun safety awareness.

As we head into the summer, community swimming pools open, families and friends gather for picnics and barbecues, and thousands head to beaches and lakes for fun in the sun. Recent statistics from the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) make clear the critical need to keep sun safety on everyone’s radar screen:

  • Estimates are 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime
  • 8,500 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with skin cancer every day
  • Melanoma rate in the U.S. have doubled from 1982 to 2011

This month and throughout the year, ACCC Cancer Program Members and their staff play an important role in educating their communities on skin cancer prevention, early detection, and screening. For example:

In Delaware, Christiana Care Helen F. Graham Cancer Center schedules free Skin Cancer Screening Awareness programs just ahead of the Memorial Day weekend. The evening education sessions—offered in both English and Spanish—include information on self exams, risk factors, and how to protect yourself and your family. The programs use AAD materials and also promote a Delaware state skin cancer education and awareness program.

In Maryland, at Atlantic General Hospital, Regional Cancer Care Center, skin cancer awareness activities during the month of May include a digital display slide on hospital lobby TVs calling attention to the need for farmers to stay skin safe; Facebook posts with sun safety tips and resources; and free skin checks by Atlantic General Dermatology at the Annual Ocean City Health Fair.

In Idaho, St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute, developed the POOL COOL program to bring sun safety education to community swimming pools.

Each year, Skin Cancer Awareness Month serves as a call to action, an opportunity to spread the message on sun safety and skin cancer prevention. ACCC thanks all of our member programs and their multidisciplinary care providers for their efforts in May—and throughout the year—promoting health in their communities through education on prevention, screening, and early detection.