ASCO today issued recommendations to help improve the quality of care for the more than 13 million cancer survivors living in the United States. ASCO's recommendations come at critical time when more people than ever before are surviving the disease as a result of advances in prevention, treatment, and follow-up care.
"Most patients still want to see their oncologists even after they have finished active treatment. Oncologists are well-positioned to lead and develop a strategy for coordinating follow-up care with primary care providers," said Sandra Swain, MD, FACP, ASCO President. "We can't let these patients, who are living examples of the progress we have achieved in cancer, fall through the cracks. ASCO's statement provides a roadmap for closing the gap in survivor care."
ASCO's Key Recommendations for Improving Survivor Care
• Promote patient-centered coordinated care through the use of shared-care models, which allow for collaboration among practitioners of different disciplines or with different skills and knowledge;
• Increase adoption of quality improvement programs, such as ASCO's Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI®), which help physicians monitor and improve care for all survivors;
• Expand research on long-term and late effects to expand the evidence base required to define optimal survivor care;
• Strengthen education of healthcare providers on survivorship care to keep pace with growing evidence on the long-term follow-up care needs for different types of cancers;
• Educate and empower cancer survivors and their families to advocate for their unique needs and to ensure optimal long-term health.
"Our recommendations apply well beyond the immediate oncology community. As many patients transition back to their primary care and other providers, it is imperative that all healthcare professionals collaborate to ensure optimal care," said Mary MCabe, RN, MA, Chair of ASCO's Survivorship Committee and Director of the Cancer Survivorship Initiative at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
ASCO is also calling upon policymakers to ensure that the needs of cancer survivors remain a priority as provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are implemented. Portions of the law, including those addressing Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and patient-centered medical homes, hold promise for our nation's cancer survivors as they are designed to promote coordinated care for patients with chronic diseases. ASCO is calling on federal lawmakers to include cancer as a chronic disease under these provisions and acknowledge the long-term and multi-faceted health issues facing survivors.
ASCO is also calling for reform of the Medicare reimbursement system in order to adequately reflect the delivery of survivor-specific services. The lack of coding and reimbursement policies that reflect the range of care services for services remains a major barrier to implemented of care coordination. ASCO believes the Comprehensive Cancer Care Improvement Act has the capacity to address this issue by creating a Medicare reimbursement structure for cancer care planning and the development of coordinated cancer care plans.