Oncology clinicians are exceptional at engaging with patients, and an opportunity exists to use technology to allow us to better focus on critical issues such as medical shared decision-making, improving care to underserved and marginalized patients, and increasing clinical trial participation.
David R. Penberthy, M.D., M.B.A.
President, Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC)
Honoring technology in practice
The Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) — a multidisciplinary organization representing nearly 30,000 cancer care professionals throughout the United States — created its Innovator Award program to recognize visionary ideas and compelling solutions to transform patient care — many of which are technology-driven. Oregon Health and Science University, Knight Cancer Institute (Portland, OR) was honored for its telepharmacy program, which used remote medication verification technology to reduce risk, improve safety, and save millions. Fox Chase Cancer Center (Philadelphia, PA) was recognized for implementing bed management software to streamline scheduling and resolve capacity issues. Ruttenberg Cancer Center (New York, NY) was honored for adopting a web-based tracker to manage patient registration and reduce treatment delays. In 2020, ACCC Innovator Award Winners Mercy Cancer Care (St. Louis, MO) and Tennessee Oncology (Nashville, TN) developed and used predictive algorithms to reduce ER visits and hospital admissions and to proactively identify patient co-morbidities. This technology reduced healthcare costs and improved patient care.
Patients hold the center
While technology is being used to deliver better, smarter, and more efficient care; standardize and improve clinical decision-making; and drive down costs, patients remain at the center of these efforts. MultiCare Regional Cancer Center (Tacoma, WA) was recognized for leveraging IT to enhance the patient experience, a significant investment that included a health system-wide electronic health record, a multifunction audio-visual system at each chemotherapy chair, and wall-mounted monitors in all rooms. 2021 ACCC Innovator Award winners included:
- The University of Colorado Cancer Center, UCHealth-Oncology Services (Aurora, CO) for implementing virtual reality technology to show patients their tumor, its location, and its size, as well as how the radiation treatment plan will work, including the size of the radiation beam and where it will target.
- Karmanos Cancer Institute/Wayne State University (Detroit, MI) for its Discussions of Cost App to improve doctor and patient communication around costs of care.
- Inova Schar Cancer Institute (Fairfax, VA) for leveraging widely available technology such as iPads to do remote monitoring of patients with cancer, keeping these immuno-compromised patients out of hospitals to decrease COVID-19 transmission risk.
The future is now
Oncology has grown from reactive to proactive care. We have moved from episodic monitoring of patients when they visit our clinics to continuous or remote monitoring of patients from their own homes. To help continue this forward momentum, ACCC will serve as a conduit to collect and disseminate technology-driven solutions to help map out a future ideal state for oncology care.