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Post-Learning Lab: A Focus on Metrics, Data, and Common Ground

August 1, 2019
Hand moving in missing puzzle piece

This is the second in a two-part blog series on the ACCC Financial Advocacy Network Learning Lab held on November 5, 2018 at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center. Part one describes the on-site Learning Lab workshop, barriers to provision of optimal financial advocacy services to patients identified by the cancer program, and their action plan for next steps. In this post, read about the program's progress at three months post-workshop. 

Three months after the ACCC Learning Lab, participants met with their stakeholders and leadership to report on their efforts to develop a more proactive approach to patient financial advocacy services. They described the steps they had taken thus far to meet the goals they had set for themselves:

  • Created an access services team and accountability spreadsheet to designate responsibilities and track results;
  • Established standing meetings for staff from pharmacy, access, and nursing to come together and address workflow issues, define processes, and streamline communications with other teams in the oncology department and hospital as a whole; and
  • Began working with the IT team to determine which metrics to track and how to gather relevant patient data from the EHR. (Some of the metrics the team would like to collect include number of patients assisted, amount of increased revenue and savings to the facility, and savings and direct benefits received by the patient.)

During the follow-up meeting, participants reported having a better understanding of the complexity of the issue of financial advocacy itself. They said that meeting regularly to define and clarify processes across teams had presented opportunities for growth and improvement. Participants agreed that defining key roles and responsibilities has facilitated communication, which has reduced delays in delivering patient financial services.

With the growing need for financial advocacy resources, participants recognize that metrics are necessary to justify hiring additional dedicated financial counselors to work solely in oncology, rather than dividing their services among multiple specialties, which can create confusion and bottlenecks. Obtaining these metrics will require access to appropriate patient information in the EHR.

While participants said they are certain their organization’s EHR can help them enhance their financial advocacy services, they need to better determine how information, data, and notes can be shared in meaningful ways across teams. For example, the terminology used by nursing is different than that used for pharmacy, and having common ground will be crucial for efficient communication. As one participant noted, “We have different screens. We live in different pieces of the chart.”

As financial advocacy for patients with cancer becomes increasingly necessary, the ACCC Financial Advocacy Network Learning Labs help programs zero in on specific obstacles and challenges to their staff and their patients. By bringing together stakeholders across the organization and customizing the workshop to address a program's specific concerns, these Learning Labs facilitate participants in identifying avenues for improvement, setting realistic goals, and tracking progress.

To find out how your cancer program can participate in an ACCC Financial Advocacy Learning Lab, contact resources@accc-cancer.org

Access ACCC Financial Advocacy Resources Online

Join ACCC on October 30 in Orlando, Florida, for the one-day Financial Advocacy Network Pre-conference in advance of the ACCC 36th National Oncology Conference. Learn more.