By Carlos Sampaio, MD
Managing cancer is a team effort, as seen by the multidisciplinary efforts in oncology. From diagnosis to treatment, from administrative issues to end-of-life decisions, patients with cancer and their families must deal with a large and diverse team of contributors.
A comprehensive cancer facility nowadays includes a fairly large number of professionals from different backgrounds and with different skills. Patient-centered care has become more complex than simply working through diagnosis to treatment. That era is gone! Patient needs should be at the center of provided services and made available in a routine and organized fashion.
In order to achieve this goal, a multitude of health care providers have to work together to fully embrace the mission ahead of each team member.
To make this complex orchestra perform at its best, a few key principles are mandatory:
- Make patient-centered decisions. Listen, ask, explain, answer, and please, do it again if needed.
- Prepare the team to serve, not to work. This statement may sound simplistic, but going to work is quite different than arriving at the building where you might change for the better the day or the life of a patient or family member. All employees, from the doorman, call center, medical staff, or any other department should feel accountable and rewarded for the service they provide.
- Exhaustively develop skills and update knowledge at every opportunity. People, buildings, and institutions “grow old” and improve through experience, challenges, mistakes, and achievements. Use all opportunities to build a common knowledge and an institution culture.
- Amplify communication among team members. Establish responsibilities, goals, and metrics by all available means.
- Inspire all employees towards a common and accepted mission. It is essential to have the organization workforce fully aware of their mission and values that sustain their institution.
- Finally, revisit your working plan as needed. Do not be afraid of admitting mistakes and wrong decisions. The alternative is hiding behind an ineffective system that will negatively affect your workforce.
Dr. Sampaio is a member of the ASCO International Affairs Committee, and a clinical research at Clinica AMO in Salvador, Brazil.