As the healthcare landscape continues to change and the role of oncology financial advocates evolves, ACCC’s Financial Advocacy Network is collaborating with its partners to update the Financial Advocacy Services Guidelines using a consensus-based process.
Meredith Doherty, PhD, LCSW, conducts mixed-method, community-engaged research to understand the relationship between economic security and health. She examines the process through which medical financial hardship accelerates existing racial and ethnic health disparities. As a faculty member of the School of Policy and Practice Center for Guaranteed Income Research, Dr. Doherty teaches courses in health policy and social work/nonprofit leadership. She is also the lead investigator of the Guaranteed Income and Financial Treatment Trial, which focuses on alleviating financial hardship in families facing cancer.
Dr. Doherty draws upon her clinical experience as a palliative care social worker in safety-net community hospitals to develop, implement, and evaluate healthcare-based social needs interventions that target downstream social determinants of health in medically underserved populations. As an implementation scientist, she seeks to understand the role of community and organizational leaders in the delivery of evidence-based strategies to promote healthcare access and reduce disparities. Dr. Doherty received her Master of Social Work from the Silver School of Social Work at New York University and Doctor of Philosophy in social welfare from the City University of New York, and she was co-chief research fellow in psycho-oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Sharon Gentry, MSN, RN, HON-ONN-CG, AOCN, CBCN, is the program director, Academy of Oncology Nurse and Patient Navigators (AONN+) at The Lynx Group in Cranbury, N.J. She serves as a leader for the AONN+ organization, guiding and directing the organization based on agreed-upon strategic plans, goals, and objectives that the organization—with administrative support from The Lynx Group—intends to achieve in the short term and long-term. Gentry oversees the AONN+ Leadership Council and local navigation networks.
She travels nationally, lecturing on the navigation concept in healthcare, and has published numerous articles and chapters on the subject. Gentry is on the editorial board for the Journal of Oncology Navigation & Survivorship, CONQUER: the patient voice, and The Oncology Nurse-APN/PA.
On the local level, Gentry is a Trellis Supportive Care Board Member and participates in its Professional Advisory Committee, and she is an active member of the North Carolina Piedmont Triad Local Navigation Network and Piedmont Triad Oncology Nursing Society. She obtained her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in nursing from the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill and UNC Greensboro, respectively.
Rebecca Kirch, JD, provides strategic focus and leadership in bringing the millions of patient and family voices NPAF and PAF represent to the forefront of national healthcare quality improvement efforts.
She previously worked 15 years at the American Cancer Society and its advocacy affiliate, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. As the Society’s first director of quality of life and survivorship, she orchestrated the development of its national agenda addressing pain, symptoms, and distress experienced by patients, survivors, and caregivers. She created collaborative initiatives in research, programs, and advocacy for integrated palliative, psychosocial, and rehabilitation services, as well as enhanced clinical communication skills.
Rebecca also played a leading role in planning and executing the Institute of Medicine 2015 joint workshop “Comprehensive Cancer Care for Children and Families” and the National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine’s Quality Care for People with Serious Illness Roundtable 2017 workshop on “Integrating Patient and Family Voices in Serious Illness Care.” She also serves as Quality of Life and Person-Centered Care’s Task Force co-chair for the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine and a board member for children’s oncology care camps.
Angie Santiago, CRCS, is the oncology financial advocacy manager at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at the Thomas Jefferson University Health System. She created and implemented the Oncology Patient Assistance Program that is utilized by the health system. The program was initiated to assist patients with the acquisition of supplemental financial coverage, over and beyond what has been traditionally provided by the hospital’s business office.
Santiago has worked in healthcare for almost 21 years within patient access, revenue cycle, and financial counseling. She is a graduate of the Association of Community Cancer Centers Financial Advocacy Network boot camp and currently services as the chair for the network’s Advisory Committee. Santiago has also presented on financial toxicity and related topics at patient navigators’ networking meetings.
Lori Schneider is an oncology operations manager at Green Bay Oncology and has worked in healthcare for over 25 years. As an operations manager, Schneider oversees the organization’s financial counseling, social work, medical records, reception, and dietitian teams, as well as provider scheduling and credentialing. She joined Green Bay Oncology as a receptionist and later transferred to revenue cycle, where she worked in accounts receivable. In 2006, Schneider developed the financial counseling role at Green Bay Oncology before transitioning to business office manager and, more recently, operations manager roles.
She is a past chairperson for the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) Financial Advocacy Network and is currently an ACCC Board Member. Schneider has presented at several conferences on the importance of financial counseling in oncology, including what is needed to have a centralized team that cares for patients' financial and insurance needs (e.g., prior authorizations and financial assistance for medical, radiation, surgical, gynecological, and pediatric oncology). Additional conference topics include the importance of utilizing pharmaceutical and specialty pharmacy representatives to help your cancer program and how to enhance your financial counseling program. Schneider and her team have also assisted cancer programs and practices nationally and locally, including helping them establish and enhance their own financial counseling programs.
Veena Shankaran, MD, is co-director of the Hutchinson Institute for Cancer Outcomes Research at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Her research focuses on measuring the impact of a cancer diagnosis and treatment on patients and their caregivers’ finances, as well as developing strategies to lessen this impact. She also conducts studies that describe real-world treatment patterns and costs of care in the Puget Sound region of Washington as well as nationally.
Dr. Shankaran is a medical oncologist who specializes in caring for patients with gastrointestinal malignancies, with a particular focus on cancers of the esophagus and stomach. In collaboration with other gastrointestinal oncologists at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance—Fred Hutch’s clinical-care partner—Dr. Shankaran is helping expand the gastrointestinal cancer clinical trials program to provide novel treatment options to patients.