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#AMCCBS: The Future, Empathy, & Deep Dives

March 5, 2024

Galvanized by a productive day on Capitol Hill, members of the Association of Cancer Care Centers (ACCC) convened in Washington D.C on Thursday, February 29 for the second day of the ACCC 50th Annual Meeting & Cancer Center Business Summit (#AMCCBS). Through a compelling keynote address, general sessions, deep dive workshops, and many networking opportunities, attendees explored cutting-edge solutions to persistent challenges in the oncology landscape.

The day began with an address from members of ACCC leadership, as they shared their excitement for the Association’s rebranding. “Words matter, and our new name truly reflects who we are and where we are going,” said ACCC president-elect, Nadine J. Barrett, PhD, MA, MS, senior associate dean for Community Engagement and Equity in Research at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and Atrium Health and associate director, Community Outreach and Engagement at Wake Forest Comprehensive Cancer Center and Levine Cancer Institute. “It is exciting how much the organization has grown, and I am looking forward to the next 50 years.” Building on Dr. Barrett’s insight, ACCC president Olalekan Ajayi, PharmD, MBA, chief operating officer at Highlands Oncology Group, PA, said, “Over the coming weeks you will witness updates to the ACCC branding and communications as we implement this change seamlessly. As president and president elect of ACCC, Nadine and I would like to thank you for your support, and we look forward to the future.”

As the leading education and advocacy organization for the cancer care community in the United States, ACCC’s history in the past half-century has been built on pioneering innovations. These accomplishments were highlighted in an evocative video presentation that drew a rousing applause from attendees, as well as Mila Felder, MD, FACEP, enterprise vice president, Well-Being for All Teammates at Advocate Health, the day’s keynote speaker.

Empathy & The Oncology Workforce

“It is an incredible honor to be here with you today,” Dr. Felder said to begin her address. “I was moved as I listened to the incredible video documenting how you all in the community, small or big, work to deliver comprehensive cancer care... in the next 40 minutes, I will give you a little path on improving your organizational wellbeing.”

Through a series of carefully curated pieces of art created by clinicians, Dr. Felder illustrated to the audience that clinicians are much more than their job description. Even in the current health care landscape—inundated by workforce shortages, burnout, and workplace violence. “Workplace violence is not normal, even though members of the multidisciplinary cancer care team try to downplay it,” she said. “Let’s create a health care culture that embraces our humanity.”

According to Dr. Felder, the idea of "embracing our humanity" begins with health care professionals caring for each other as they care for their patients. “Ask yourself, how can I support me and my team, so they are not only here to save the world, but enjoy the day?” Further, Dr. Felder wagers that health care workers must remember what “grounds them to where they come from.” For Dr. Felder, it is her journey as an immigrant who had to leave her family to pursue a career in medicine. It is the pain of losing her 17-year-old daughter following a long-drawn-out illness. Dr. Felder believes these experiences connect her to both sides of the care continuum—understanding the trauma of the patient, and the resiliency of the physician. “I have held the hand of the patient that died when I was a medical student, and I have held the hand of the parents who lost their child like I did,” she said. Her story is what makes her human, and she argues organizational well-being can be improved by cancer programs and practices capturing that essence in their daily affairs. “I hope that our time together has inspired you to bring back that community and sense of belonging at your organization,” she concluded.

Diving Deep into Cancer Care Challenges 

Back by popular demand, ACCC hosted 8 deep dive workshops throughout the day, allowing invited expert facilitators and attendees to partake in interactive conversations. These workshops aimed to identify challenges ACCC members are experiencing and brainstorm practical solutions to mitigate or resolve them. “Take this opportunity to come together with your colleagues and share common challenges,” Dr. Ajayi said. “What we learn and develop at these sessions, will inform the Trending Now in Cancer Care Report, and influence the content in ACCC’s blog and podcast.”  

Areas of focus included: 

  • Collaborative Care Delivery Models
  • Research and Clinical Trials
  • Payer, Manufacturer and Supply Challenges
  • EHR Integration: A Key Component to Precision Medicine
  • Artificial and Business Intelligence Technology
  • Community Engagement in Cancer Education and Prevention
  • Oncology Workforce Challenges

In discussing collaborate care delivery models, deep dive participants learned that cancer has emerged as the top driver of employer health care costs, fueling the need for new models of expert cancer care delivery. They analyzed how oncologists can manage the pace of innovation in cancer treatment, and the need for organizations to rethink how they offer cancer support to enhance the patient experience in the digital age.

Electronic Health Record (EHR) was a hot topic among members during the deep dive sessions. For cancer programs and practices looking to begin the process, Christopher McNair, PhD, associate director for Data Science, director of Cancer Informatics at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, and an assistant professor in the department of Medical Oncology at Thomas Jefferson University advises, “You should not try to do it all on your own. Find the people at your institution who are as passionate as you are to push the integration goals forward. Additionally, use experienced vendors. Just because it is your first integration doesn’t mean it should be theirs.”

In the workshop focused on community engagement, representatives from Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center highlighted their Prevention on the Go workplace program which has visited 70 workplaces, hosting 213 events and screening 7,086 individuals. Of these individuals, 3,815 (54%) had never been screened. Another 567 (8%) were navigated through an abnormal finding, and 96 of them (17%) received a cancer diagnoses. To date, more than 150 precancerous lesions have been removed.

More discussion from these workshops will be captured and used to develop a comprehensive report for ACCC-members post-conference. Keep a look out later this year for this final report in the Association’s peer-reviewed journal, Oncology Issues

Care Management

The day concluded with a robust panel discussion on billing for comprehensive cancer care services by using principal care management codes. Panelists discussed how to effectively utilize existing chronic care management codes and operationalize recently added principal illness and navigation codes to bill for the complex care required to treat many patients with cancer.

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