Last modified: August 2, 2019
Richard Honaker M.D.View Full Profile
Recent research finds cancer care coordination top priority to enhance treatment and survivorship. The 2016 CancerCare Patient Access and Engagement Report investigated nearly every aspect of cancer patient understanding.
There was a reported disconnect between cancer patients and physicians, according to the 2016 report. The study’s authors concluded that emphasis should be placed on end-of-life planning, as well as better care coordination.
The use of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) has a big impact on cancer care coordination due to the high number of physicians, treatments, medications, and counseling involved after diagnosis. This places value on any care coordination plan that utilizes EHRs.
Physicians who utilize EHRs will greatly increase care coordination, whether they are primary care physicians or referred specialists. Better cancer care coordination simply equates to more efficient and effective physicians with an end result of better patient care.
Patient EHRs Beneficial for Physicians for Optimized Cancer Care
Cancer Care Coordination Findings
The 2016 CancerCare Patient Access and Engagement Report involved the perspectives of more than 3,000 cancer patients. The Study’s goal was to better understand a cancer patient’s experience after diagnosis. The research findings would than highlight the needs of patients, and address possible care solutions.
The results of the study found a startling disconnect between cancer treatment specialists and a patient’s primary care physician. Often times, patients convey concerns relating to their cancer diagnosis and treatment plan to their primary care physician.
The patient and primary care physician connection is a call to action for all health care providers to be on the same page using health IT, and EHRs.
Care Coordination Extends to Survivorship
Care coordination and the use of EHRs also extends to cancer survivorship. A pilot study published in the Journal of Oncology Practice (2014) found EHRs to be useful in cancer survivorship care plans. Survivorship care plans are recommended by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), but has failed to be widely adopted.
Development and delivery of survivorship care plans via EHRs was in fact faster, according to the 2014 study. The EHR survivorship care plan is also available to patients, oncologists, and primary care physicians. This confronts the concerns over primary physician to specialist disconnect discussed in the 2016 CancerCare report.
Excellent cancer care coordination may benefit physicians just as much as it does their patients. These benefits are also shared among all specialists and physicians involved in a patient’s diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship.
Patients Want Primary Care Physicians Involved
An Accenture survey involving 10,000 patients in five countries found that less than one in five patients are actually aware of the medical services available to them. This is an alarming statistic that physicians of all fields should take note of. The survey found that 21 percent of cancer and immune disease patients are aware of potential therapeutic services.
Approximately 87 percent of patients surveyed expressed a need for a single point of contact for service awareness with preference toward digital channels.
Primary care physicians were identified as that possible point of contact. This emphasizes the need for care coordination via EHRs at every level of care, from specialists to primary physician vital.
EHRs Improve Continuity of Patient Care
Using health IT to develop the most efficient and effective care coordination system is beneficial for physicians and patients. HealthIT.gov featured Dr. James Gould for his customized use of EHRs. Dr. Gould founded the Oncology Associates of West Kentucky, which is a rural medical oncology practice.
They adopted a care coordination plan using EHRs in 2004, and exceptional results for their patients followed. They found that by using a customizable system, they could match the fluidity of care oncology presents.
Dr. Gould and his colleagues were able to improve the continuity of care for their cancer patients. It also allowed them to stay up-to-date on tests, treatments, and risks from anywhere in the world. This proved beneficial while Dr. Gould was on vacation, nearly 4,000 miles away from his practice.
He was able to order a CT brain scan, review the results, and update his patient’s treatment plan via EHR care coordination. This also offered patient benefits, allowing Dr. Gould’s patient to avoid an emergency room visit and possible misdiagnosis.
The long-term benefits of a care coordination EHR platform that improves patient experience and bridges the gap between primary physicians and health care providers is invaluable.
Submitted by Dr. Richard Honaker: http://www.independentmedicalexaminer.com/IME-Directory/Virginia/Dr-Richard-A-Honaker-MD.asp
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