The COVID-19 pandemic continued to test the strength of the oncology community throughout 2021. Because it impacted every cancer program and practice differently, ACCC listened to stakeholders and responded with support based on what members shared. ACCC adapted in real time to meet these needs and built a wealth of tools, resources, and education initiatives that emphasized the well-being of cancer care professionals and the patients and families they serve.
As we struggled through variant-driven peaks during the COVID-19 pandemic and into a landscape forever changed, ACCC President Krista Nelson, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C, FAOSW, urged the membership to reflect on the past year—from the witnessed suffering of patients, colleagues, and families to innovations in care delivery, staff resiliency, and heroism across all disciplines in medicine. Through Nelson’s theme “Real-World Lessons from COVID-19: Driving Oncology Care Forward," ACCC integrated health equity into all its programming, advocated for high-reach and high-impact supportive care service delivery, and offered opportunities and resources for cancer care teams to strengthen their well-being and resilience.
Nelson convened an expert working group to pilot a survey to collect real-world data on the landscape and distribution of oncology social workers in the outpatient setting and develop business case briefs to support the hiring of oncology social workers and oncology pharmacists. Both tools aim to show how critical these team members are to improving the quality of care, enhancing the patient experience, supporting their colleagues, and reducing costs.
Nelson hosted and moderated five coffee chats with segmented groups of the multidisciplinary care team. These intimate and engaged conversations gave insight into the lived experiences of ACCC members and will inform tools and resources to support cancer professionals from several education programs like the ACCC Financial Advocacy Network.
In launching the first CANCER BUZZ TV video podcast, Nelson shared how her personal experiences influenced her 2021-22 President's Theme. ACCC also released quarterly mini-podcasts throughout 2021-22 on topics like coping with pandemic grief, disconnect among teams, self-care, and making the business case for oncology social workers.
To support the mental health of all cancer professionals, ACCC released a series of virtual meditations that convened experienced meditation practitioners. These eleven mindfulness practice recordings are intended to help listeners manage their stress levels and improve their social, emotional, physical, and mental health.
ACCC has made a commitment to inform all educational programming and advocacy efforts through a health equity lens; advocate for equitable access to cancer clinical trials; ensure that its leadership, volunteer, and staff represent a variety of backgrounds and perspectives; and incorporate equity, diversity, and inclusion in its Strategic Plan, so it continues to serve as a core value of the organization.
ACCC co-hosted with Harborside a three-day virtual summit to define the role of oncology advanced practitioners (APs) in equitable cancer care delivery across three domains: care coordination and communication, clinical trials, and acknowledging and mitigating implicit bias. After the virtual summit, participants used a consensus-driven process to identify and define 10 feasible and impactful opportunities for oncology APs.
In partnership with the Association of Oncology Social Work (AOSW) and American Psychosocial Oncology Society (APOS), ACCC co-hosted a successful virtual workshop—Achieving Health Equity in the Psychosocial Treatment of Cancer Pain—that delivered solutions to make lasting change in cancer care delivery. This workshop attracted 700 individuals looking to further health equity in cancer care delivery.
Krista Nelson represented ACCC as the organization’s president at the Cancer Support Community’s Utilization Management Summit that was held virtually in November 2021. She spoke on ACCC’s current efforts and featured resources for achieving health equity with the larger healthcare community through use of precision medicine, supportive care services, and more.
Equity, diversity, and inclusion were at the forefront of Oncology Issues, including the story of one woman’s quest to empower Black women with breast cancer and the efforts of the Center for Indigenous Cancer Research at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in New York and the Sutter Health Institute for Advancing Health Equity in California.
The ACCC Community Oncology Research Institute (ACORI) was developed in 2021 to help build capacity among community oncology programs to enhance their readiness to equitably offer clinical trials. ACORI hosted a virtual Summit on September 13-14, 2021—in collaboration with Stand Up to Cancer—to identify concrete strategies for engaging patients, caregivers, and their communities to make cancer care research more diverse, equitable, and accessible.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and ACCC have joined forces to ensure that cancer treatment trials better reflect the diversity of cancer populations. Through this collaboration, seventy-five research sites are participating in a site-specific self-assessment tool, implicit bias training program, or both. The initiative aims to increase racial and ethnic diversity among clinical trial participants and support for clinicians, so they can routinely offer clinical trials to all eligible patients.
ACCC is focused on understanding the specific barriers and challenges that exist to equal access to precision medicine among underserved patient communities. Through a study with the LUNGevity Foundation, ACCC is evaluating patient and provider perceptions of equity in access to biomarker testing and gaps in access to precision medicine therapies based on the identification of actionable biomarkers.
ACCC recognized three distinguished cancer professionals during its 38th [Virtual] National Oncology Conference on November 10—Drs. Pierce, Schilsky, and Green—whose contributions in practice, research, and community leadership have greatly impacted the field of oncology and the reach of community cancer care.
Lori J. Pierce, MD, FASTRO, FASCO, is a radiation oncologist, professor, and vice provost for Academic and Faculty Affairs at the University of Michigan. She received the ACCC Annual Achievement Award in recognition of her outstanding contributions to cancer care and patients with cancer, including her distinguished work in addressing disparities in breast cancer.
Richard L. Schilsky, MD, FACP, FSCT, FASC, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, received the ACCC Clinical Research Award for his work toward broadening eligibility criteria to make clinical trials more representative of the oncology patient population. His research has significantly and positively impacted the oncology patient, family, and community.
B. Lee Green, PhD, vice president of Diversity, Public Relations, and Strategic Communications at Moffit Cancer Center, received the David King Community Clinical Scientist Award in recognition of his work in health equity, specifically for ensuring that Moffitt is responsive and actively creating a culture of diversity and inclusion as it strives to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer.
Cancer programs and practices have seen a decrease in cancer screenings because of the pandemic, leading to increases in diagnosis of late-stage disease and likely mortality rates. In addressing oncology’s road to recovery from the global pandemic, ACCC curated several resources for those in need of support and direction.
President Biden announced plans to revamp the federal Cancer Moonshot program in early 2022. Prior to the announcement, ACCC worked behind-the-scenes to support the White House by making resources and tools from its membership available. Current efforts focus on cancer prevention and early detection for underserved and marginalized patient populations, and ACCC will continue to support the initiative by leveraging the expertise of its member programs to achieve equitable quality care for all patients with cancer and their families.
The ACCCBuzz blog interviewed four ACCC members to gain perspective of how screening and outreach programs are recovering from pandemic pressures. The Long Road to Recovery: Cancer Screening in the U.S. series’ lessons learned include relationship building and community engagement, which are invaluable to any screening and outreach efforts; creating and taking advantage of multiple touchpoints with patients; and understanding that engaging key stakeholders is necessary for success.
Debra Patt, MD, PhD, MBA, FASCO, of Texas Oncology and the Texas Society of Clinical Oncology opened the 2021 ACCC 38th [Virtual] National Oncology Conference where she spoke of the pandemic’s impact on cancer care and offered strategies for navigating the changed healthcare environment, including technology’s new role in care delivery; guidelines on vaccines, boosters, and systemwide mandates; and tips for supporting and retaining staff.
Through various committees, task forces, and small-group meetings, ACCC heard from its members in real-time. Identified barriers to care and needs were recorded and addressed throughout various media outlets, including ACCCBuzz and CANCER BUZZ TV. These quick, bite-sized resources allow ACCC members to learn from one another in multimedia formats, so they can share successes on overcoming adversity in oncology with one another.
Objective and data driven, ACCC quality improvement initiatives reduce variations in care and have a measurable impact on patient outcomes. ACCC works with its members to review existing coordination and communication processes, identify barriers and knowledge gaps, and create customized process improvement plans to build capacity and meet Commission on Cancer (CoC) standards.
Watch videos to hear from six ACCC member programs on the benefits of participating in this NSCLC quality improvement program with details regarding how specific changes were implemented. Download project specific data sheets from each site in order to replicate their study at your institution.
Members can use these tools and resources—as well as lessons learned from their peers who have participated in these programs—to initiate their own quality improvement projects.
ACCC is the leading education and advocacy organization whose membership includes all cancer care team members—medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, nurses, researchers, cancer program administration, social workers, pharmacists, financial advocates, dietitian nutritionists, and so many more. Regardless of your discipline, ACCC has tools and resources dedicated to your role and offers how-to's for those looking to expand the scope of their care teams.
The ACCC Financial Advocacy Network brought together experts to create a comprehensive tool to support onboarding and continuous learning
for staff who deliver financial advocacy services. The Playbook defines common terminology and outlines the basics of financial advocacy, such as benefits verification, financial distress screening, prior authorizations, insurance education and
optimization, and how to secure available financial assistance options for qualifying patients.
The ACCC 38th [Virtual] National Oncology Conference featured seven forward-thinking Cancer Program Members that created innovative and replicable solutions while demonstrating real-world impact on the delivery of cost-effective, patient-centered care. Award winners varied by program size and project type, including developing a transportation hub to increase treatment adherence, a patient-focused tool to reduce financial toxicity, and a 3-D virtual reality cart to improve patient education.
Supportive care services as well as resiliency, wellness, and self-care for cancer program and practice staff and their patients were key areas of focus for ACCC’s journal . Featured articles included topics on distress screening using a staff-created digital tool, expansion of innovative integrative oncology services during a pandemic, psychological first aid for staff, and how to lead with mindfulness and compassion.
ACCC strives to support cancer care professionals in understanding federal and state legislation that will impact oncology and offers support to those who want to advocate for change in their community, state, or across the U.S.
In May, ACCC hosted a Virtual Hill Day, allowing members to partake in advocacy efforts from the comfort of their own homes. Forty-three ACCC members from 24 states attended more than 70 meetings with U.S. House and Senate offices, where they asked representatives to support the Telehealth Modernization Act and Safe Step Act.
ACCC released survey results on white bagging and its impact on patient care, including raising safety concerns and causing treatment delays, increasing drug waste, and burdening staff. Cancer programs and practices can learn more about white bagging exemptions and how to advocate for change by reading the report.
To address reimbursement changes, ACCC developed four guiding principles to ensure cuts made by policymakers are not at the cost of healthcare providers and cancer programs or practices and that legislation does not limit access to care for anyone with cancer regardless of their location and insurance status.
ACCCBuzz gave national attention to the advocacy efforts of its 21 Chapter Members. Such blogs discussed topics like the scope of practice for pharmacy professionals in Colorado, patient access to quality cancer care in Texas, fertility preservation in Hawaii, and advances in pharmacy benefit manager reform in Tennessee and Wisconsin.
In April 2021, ACCC co-signed a joint letter on COVID-19 and cancer in recognition of World Health Day. The global campaign discussed in the letter aims at convening stakeholders and demanding that governments make a difference by agreeing to be committed to the investment of prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment of cancer.
Over five days, the ACCC 47th Annual Meeting & Cancer Center Business Summit examined timely case studies and policy insights for the oncology community. With each day dedicated to a key topic (e.g., telehealth, COVID-19, and business consolidation), speakers demonstrated how to embrace change through digital health, business operations and care processes, and the patient and provider experience.
David R. Penberthy, MD, MBA, will focus his ACCC President’s Theme on leveraging digital health technologies to transform cancer care delivery and the patient experience. Some areas of interest include equitably using data and digital health tools to identify ways to reduce health disparities and identifying strategies to use technology to help mitigate workforce shortages and improve efficiency of care.
Also known as “personalized medicine,” precision medicine is one of the most innovative disciplines within oncology. To support clinicians in this fast-paced field, ACCC launched the “Transforming Complex to Clear” campaign that featured resources, like the ACCC Precision Medicine Library, which enables clinicians to make educated and holistic decisions that positively influence patient outcomes.
To help facilitate the education and training that new anti-cancer treatments often require, ACCC launched the Oncology Practice Transformation and Integration Center (OPTIC). By establishing a network of multidisciplinary oncology professionals that will support ongoing peer-to-peer learning, OPTIC will provide the necessary resources to support the successful implementation emerging practices with care teams and across disciplines.
In collaborating with members from two key initiatives—the Financial Advocacy Network and Oncology Pharmacy Education Network—ACCC released a fully digital and searchable Patient Assistance & Reimbursement Guide. ACCC is asking members for their feedback on the usability of the digital Guide throughout 2022 to align future updates and members’ needs with this tool.
To identify optimal care coordination processes for multi-cancer early detection (MCED) testing among primary care, internal medicine, and oncology care teams, ACCC will identify successful models for optimally integrating MCED testing into the screening and diagnostic pathways and provide educational resources for cancer care teams and providers outside of oncology who will be involved with MCED testing.
The use of digital tools, such as wearable technology, in cancer care has the potential to mitigate or prevent adverse events, improve clinical outcomes, and elevate the patient experience. Through a multi-phase education initiative, ACCC will equip cancer care teams with practical strategies for the successful adoption of digital technologies in the care of their patients.
Gain the most from your ACCC membership by getting involved! You’ll have a forum to collaborate and learn from your colleagues nationwide, showcase your cancer program’s successes, and foster leadership opportunities. Not a member? Learn how you can benefit from ACCC’s unique multidisciplinary perspective.
ACCCeXchange—a members-only discussion forum—offers multidisciplinary perspectives on emergent issues. No matter your role, you can find the answers to your questions and share your experiences. And with additional subgroups for financial advocacy and other special interests, you can find support and guidance for any of the challenges you face.
ACCC has targeted educational content based on your professional interests. Receive personalized outreach from ACCC by updating your areas of concentration, mailing preferences, job title, and credentials via your ACCC website profile. You must have an ACCC profile to register for live and virtual events and to participate in conversations on ACCCeXchange.
Looking for opportunities for professional growth and resources for process and quality improvement? ACCC offers guidance, best practices, and accredited education resources made for you. Look at our upcoming calendar of events and eLearning catalog to find what is right for you. Most events are free or available at reduced rates for ACCC members.
ACCC relies on its most valuable resource—its members—to provide input and insights on navigating issues related to cancer care delivery. There are many volunteer opportunities available—let us know of your professional interests via a simple contact form, and we will connect you with a group that matches your preferences.
Do you know someone whose outstanding work in cancer care and clinical research is worthy of recognition? Nominations and applications for the 2022 ACCC Annual Awards are now open—submit your nomination today! Then look out for the ACCC Innovator Awards application, as they open every January.
Contact us to contribute to an article or feature your cancer program’s successes in the Oncology Issues journal, author an ACCCBuzz blog post, or serve as a guest on the CANCER BUZZ podcast or CANCER BUZZ TV video podcast.
Krista Nelson, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C, FAOSW
David R. Penberthy, MD, MBA
Nadine Barrett, PhD, MA, MS
Olalekan Ajayi, PharmD, MBA
Robert R. Buras, MD
Jorge García, PharmD, MS, MHA, MBA, FACHE
Pablo Gutman, MD, MBA
Amanda Henson, MSHA, MBA, FACHE
Una Hopkins, NR, FNP-BC, DNP
Ginah Nightingale, PharmD, BCOP
David Spigel, MD
Wendi Waugh, BS, RT(R)(T), CMD, CTR
ACCC manages—and collaborates very closely with—the Oncology State Societies at ACCC, a network of 21 state medical societies that represent the educational and advocacy interests of their members on the state and regional level. State society members receive select member benefits from ACCC, participate on the ASCO State Affiliate Council, and access targeted educational resources to help stay ahead of the challenges that result from a shifting healthcare landscape.