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GW Cancer Institute Launches Cancer Survivorship Series for PCPs

by Medical Staff Office on April 26, 2013

Access the series schedule or register for the program here.

In collaboration with the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the George Washington University Cancer Institute (GWCI) recently launched the Cancer Survivorship E-Learning Series for primary care providers. The series is an integral part of the National Cancer Survivorship Resource Center’s mission to shape the future of cancer survivorship care and improve the quality of life of cancer survivors as they transition from treatment to recovery and beyond.

The e-learning series will be available to a range of health care providers including general medicine physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and nurses who practice in a variety of primary care settings. The series is free and offers continuing education credits. It addresses the current state of cancer survivorship. Modules focus on the role of clinical generalists and specialists in providing follow-up care, how to manage long-term and late medical and psychosocial effects of cancer and its treatment, and the importance of survivorship care planning.

“GWCI is pleased to collaborate with the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and nationally recognized experts in clinical survivorship care and primary care to offer the e-learning series,” said Mandi Pratt-Chapman, M.A., associate director of community programs for GWCI. “We are launching this program to raise awareness among our nation’s primary care providers of the ongoing health care needs of cancer survivors.”

The first three modules, to be released on April 15, will include a focus on the “Current Status of Survivorship Care and the Role of Primary Care Providers,” presented by Larissa Nekhlyudov, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor in the department of population medicine at Harvard Medical School and internist at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, and Anne Willis, M.A., director of the division of cancer survivorship at GWCI. “Cancer survivors are mostly seen in primary care. In order to effectively care for cancer survivors, primary care providers need education, guidance, and tools,” said Nekhlyudov. “I am so glad that this program has been developed, and I am thrilled to participate.”

Future topics in 2013 include the importance of health promotion in cancer survivorship and clinical guidelines for cancer survivorship care. Each one-hour module offers patient experience interviews, presentations by experts in survivorship and primary care, case studies, and patient and provider resources. The series is offered as part of an increasing national focus on the need to improve the quality of care provided to cancer survivors after completing treatment. “The National Cancer Survivorship Resource Center supports the development and distribution of a broad range of cancer survivorship informational materials, including clinical practice guidelines and health care provider education materials for survivorship care,” said Annette Gardner, public health advisor, CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control.

The Center also promotes healthy behaviors to reduce late and long-term effects of cancer and its treatment and addresses gaps in cancer survivorship services through evaluation. “There are nearly 14 million cancer survivors in the United States, and more attention than ever is focused on the quality of life and long-term outcomes of cancer survivors,” said Roshini George, national vice president of health promotions for the ACS. “The American Cancer Society is delighted to be partnering with the George Washington University Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for this program.”

For more information, please contact Lisa Anderson at lisama2@gwu.edu or 202-994-3121.

Heard About Choosing Wisely?

by Barry Meisenberg MD on April 26, 2013

In an unprecedented public health initiative during an era of diminishing resources, 35 medical professional organizations have joined forces with consumer groups to promote safe and responsible utilization practices, i.e. Choosing Wisely, for both patients and physicians.

Each partner organization has created or will create a list of five medical tests, procedures or medication indications that are of low value and associated with causing harm. Examples include early use of imaging for low back pain (in the absence of red flags), routine pre-operative chest x-rays, antibiotics for acute sinusitis, and screening DEXA scans in subjects at low risk for osteoporosis. There are 45 such recommendations at present with more to come in 2013 as additional organizations join the campaign.

Recognizing that demand for low-value tests often originates from the public, the Choosing Wisely campaign has gained broad credibility in the lay media by partnering with prominent entities that enjoy loyal consumer following, including Consumer Reports and AARP. Cogent, patient-friendly information resources from Choosing Wisely can be used in your practice to help patients understand why more tests or more medications aren’t always the best plan.

The unambiguous statements by professional societies recommending against certain tests in certain situations set a clear “standard of care” that should provide a comfort level to physicians when having discussions with patients and families about tests of questionable value and potential harm.

The website ChoosingWisely.org contains links to each of the current 45 Choosing Wisely recommendations, and the evidence used to develop them. It also lists the professional societies that are due to create their lists in 2013. Patient resources, such as well-written one-page discussions of the recommendations, may also be downloaded from the site.

Join in the conversation: Introducing a place to discuss hot topics in medicine with your AAMC colleagues

by Mitchell Schwartz MD on April 9, 2013

Take a look at any newspaper, magazine or web-based headline and you’re bound to see references to changes affecting the world of medicine. The information comes in multiple forms. It can be in a blog, such as Wachter’s World, or a documentary, Escape Fire, on CNN.  From Obamacare to Medicaid, the rapid evolution of the expectations of our health system is on display. Somehow, I sense there are more negative messages than positive. And, in many ways, the criticism is justified.  The costs do not appear to deliver measurable value, such as in mortality rates, harm and patient satisfaction.

There are few venues at AAMC to discuss these challenging topics that directly affect our professional careers. The quick hallway conversations don’t do justice to the complexity of the problems. There is little evidence of a two-way dialogue to spark frank discussion on these topics. The lack of appropriate discourse only generates more assumptions, second-guessing and misunderstandings within our own medical community.

For example, a Washington Post article regarding cancer clinics recently garnered more than 5,000 comments.

I’m sure that most physicians will be affected directly by the cuts. And if there is little in the way of response, I believe it opens the door to further reimbursement changes either through the SGR formula, bundling of payments or other obligations that will put a price on the value of care.

Do you believe your practice will be affected? Will you continue to see new Medicare patients? What are your thoughts about bundling of payments? Please send in your comments.  They will be available for viewing and further responses.

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