What’s Trending For Oncology & The Patient Experience?
As CRISSCROSS Intimates celebrates our two-year e-anniversary, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss what’s trending for Oncology and the patient care experience post-operatively after cancer. There has been tremendous innovation over the past decade with the emergence of new drugs and promising efficacy, along with increasing adoption of precision medicine technologies, targeted therapy, immunotherapies, and liquid biopsy. Beyond the rising financial costs, there is attention being paid to “financial toxicity” that patients may experience.
New guidelines continue to be adapted across many disciplines nationwide but what I find most intriguing is the nature of practicing Oncology is changing. For a number of years I’ve continued to visit my Top Docs - Breast Surgeon annually and Oncologist about every 6 months alike for post-operative regular breast healthcare visits, year over year, throughout my 12-year survivorship. There is an increasing patient load reported by Oncologists with an expansion in services: for example, case navigators and screening services have become almost universal, and physicians are burdened more with administrative tasks stemming from managing electronic health records while they migrate to more comprehensive care management solutions.
But what does this mean for improved patient care?
I know that throughout my recovery and journey, a lot of the research and answers to my questions fell upon “me” as the survivor. We might have expected our physicians to direct us to all the channels and specialists we may have needed including counseling, sourcing proper undergarments, drug management, palliative care concerns, etc. but the fact is that many of our medical experts have not been able to properly direct us nor did they have the resources to manage it all. Today, many survivors found their voice and they speak up and inquire about our particular needs. Many communicate their concerns, make requests and insist on change. Well I believe a new day is here whereby our healthcare system is changing the world for patient care as we speak.
For Oncology, there is a trend for a new type of physician. An integrated patient care Oncologist or OPM (Oncology Practice Manager) to be there with you throughout your recovery - a form of one-stop shopping in patient care that is long overdue with more emphasis on new therapies and patient care costs. For many patients, an annual visit may have been sufficient. However, for many Survivors especially with palliative conditions, difficult recoveries and complications, we know there are many unchartered territories that patients need to be well educated on when it comes to advancements in healthcare — care that is best directed and treated by their Oncologist who really knows their journey and diagnosis very well.
I recall that I was put in touch with an Oncology Specialist who counseled me throughout my days of radiation after bi-lateral lumpectomy, and then, numerous infections post bi-lateral mastectomy with 4 reconstructive surgeries — something that got me very stressed out while trying to hold down the fort at home and work. “Kristen” was my anchor. Someone I could confide in while I juggled the new “norm” for my new lifestyle as it was changing in front of my eyes each day. Sometimes, we don’t have control of our destiny but what we can do is manage in the moment, and with the proper resources, it helps to balance how we get thru each day. That’s what Kristen did for me. I was also going thru a contentious divorce simultaneously so I had a heavy load to juggle while recovering from breast cancer. It all made sense to take the time and have a shoulder to lean on with the proper follow-up patient care as a new Survivor.
Going forward, you’ll see departments and teams of resources led by our Oncologists. It’s a fresh perspective to an on-going need for Survivorship Care and Patient Care. Some hospitalists have provided forms of seminars and mind, body and soul retreats to help during patient recovery but now we’re talking about a 24/7/365 type of cancer care. It’s fabulous and something that I strongly suggest for all patients no matter what form of cancer.
Although survivorship programs are becoming more and more prevalent in oncology care, there is a divergence among Oncologists and OPMs, about whether these services are the primary domain of the oncology practice or of the patients’ care practice. Palliative care is being discussed sooner for patients with advanced stage cancer diagnosis — often within the first month. The ongoing need for specialized staffing, clinical trials, drug management, medical benefits, personalized medicine support all play a critical role to support the growing need in this market.
The OPM perspective is to improve the overall quality of managed patient and family cancer care by offering new treatments and control rising costs. There is still much work that needs to be done to focus on the above perspective and, in time, I believe that this goal can be achieved for the benefit of Survivors. Extending that hand and Pink Ribbon to all Breast Cancer Survivors.
Resource: Genentech 2018 Oncology Trend Report
You can learn more about these topics as we dive deeper live from the NY Presbyterian/Columbia University Breast Cancer Care Management annual Conference on May 22, 2019 in New York. From there I shall report on the most recent recommendations in breast cancer screening with attention to timing of screening, frequency, and methodology; review the controversies in the diagnosis and management of the different stages of breast cancer; highlight the latest surgical advances in both oncologic breast surgery and breast reconstruction; the latest chemotherapy regimens utilized in breast cancer, including the use of neoadjuvant versus adjuvant therapies; and touch on the latest advances in precision medicine, and how these advances lead to targeted breast cancer therapies. With a further discussion on how to optimize physician patient communication as some of the relevant conference topics. You can reach me at email@example.com and learn more about my luxe post-surgical undergarment brand at https://crisscrossintimates.com. Follow and share our blogs at https://crisscrossintimates.com/blog.
Always wishing you all the breast! Jean