August - December 2007 Issue
New Hub Concept Means Better Cancer Care
Bruce Campbell, MDMedical College of Wisconsin Otolaryngologist
Named one of the “Best Doctors in America®” 2006 by Best Doctors, Inc.
When it opens next spring, the new Clinical Cancer Center will introduce a new concept designed to improve overall care. The “hub” concept gives patients one contact point to help them get all the information and answers they need. In fact, the whole building was designed with enhanced patient care in mind.
Q. What is the “hub” concept in the new Clinical Cancer Center?The idea is to provide patients with a single point of contact to make the cancer treatment experience feel less complicated. Patients will have one number to call where all of their testing and treatment can be arranged. There will be one voice on the other end of the phone — an advanced practice nurse who specializes in a particular form of cancer — who will help them ease into the system and get their questions answered.
Eventually, there will be 13 hubs, one for every disease-specific cancer program. The hub concept is really most important when someone is first entering the system. It puts a face on the care when you walk in for the first time. That’s when there’s a flurry of activity and people really need help navigating it all. A nurse navigator will be available as a go-to person for information and to follow up and make sure a patient’s questions are answered.
Once someone’s in the system, things become a little clearer. For example, if a woman has breast cancer and needs surgery and radiation but no chemotherapy, that whittles down the number of places she needs to contact. And, as people learn the system, they’ll know how to work outside the hub, too. Our culture is flexible, so we can always find ways to solve problems.
Q. How is this different from other cancer centers? It’s not a brand new concept, but it’s unique to our area. We’ve built an entire cancer center around this concept, so we have a unique opportunity because of the enhanced facilities. The new Clinical Cancer Center was designed in a “form follows function” process. We intentionally planned a center where a single clinic could house multiple specialties. For the first time, patients will come to one clinic where they might see a surgeon, a medical oncologist, and a radiation oncologist, plus the appropriate support staff. It might not all be the same day, but the patient will not have to learn the geography of the entire medical center to see his or her physicians. The idea is to bring everyone together in one place, so care is much more integrated.
Q. What does this mean to patients in terms of the care they’ll receive?We anticipate the care will become more seamless from patients’ and physicians; perspectives. There will be more opportunity for physicians to interact and discuss each patient’s care. There will be one place to come for appointments, prescriptions, teaching materials, support and supplies.
Q. How will the hub concept affect outcomes? Better patient outcomes — that’s certainly one of the benefits we’re hoping for. If the process improves efficiency, it should also improve the ability to complete treatment in a timely and evidence-based manner. Research supports the hub concept as an approach leading to better outcomes for patient survival and quality of life. We know more efficient care is related to quality in outcomes and higher volumes. It makes intuitive sense and there is data to back this up: the more experience a cancer center has (patient volume), the better the outcomes are going to be.
Q. Looking forward, what will the impact be of the new Clinical Cancer Center?We hope the community will look to us as a resource for people with cancer where the best research-based treatments are readily available. It should increase the number of patients involved in clinical trials and research. The center will also have an impact on the community by providing education, screening and information on cancer prevention.
Q. When will it open? The plan is for cancer physicians and other clinical experts to move into the building in March 2008, and we will begin seeing patients in April 2008.
Q. What makes the new center unique in providing cancer care in the region?The whole thing, top to bottom, was carefully designed. We had architects in on the original planning discussions talking about how we were going to move patients around. They worked purposefully to make sure the building will function the way we plan. The patient-centered design and emphasis on evidence-based care combine to make the new center stand out. There are many touches designed into the facility that should enhance quality of life and quality of care for our patients.
The new Clinical Cancer Center will also have an electronic medical records system to allow us to communicate information through radiology, laboratory and all the various clinics in ways we’ve never been able to before. That’s the way medicine is going.
Q. Does the new center anticipate future changes in cancer care?Now, national cancer survival rates are 68% for whites and 57% for black Americans at five years when, averaged across all cancers at all stages for all patients. We have 10 million cancer survivors nationally and experts predict that in 10 years that number will double. A lot of people are going to need quality of life management. We’re trying to be out in front when that happens.
For some of our patients, cancer has become a “chronic illness.” I’ve seen it in my professional lifetime. I’ve seen patients in my practice who have been fighting cancer for 40 years in one form or another. Many times, patients may have additional cancer problems, or they will live in a sort of a symbiotic balance with their cancer, or they’ll have side-effect issues. Those three areas are the places where we’ll have multiple contacts and the care needs to be individualized to deal with each patient’s needs. It’s a new concept compared with where we were years ago when cancer survival rates were lousy.
Source: Every Day
Date: Aug - Dec 2007 Issue