Engaging Community-Based Cancer Physicians: Experience of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Cancer Alliance

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Background: The proliferation of relationships between community health systems and academic medical centers has created a need to identify effective components of these models. This article reports on frontline physician experiences, with one such relationship established through the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) Cancer Alliance. MSK created the Alliance with the goals of rapidly bringing the newest standards of care into community settings and increasing patient access to clinical trials in their local communities. Methods: Alliance leadership administered a 10-question anonymous survey to physicians treating patients with cancer across the 3 Alliance member health systems: Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute, Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute, and Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida. The purpose of the survey was to identify opportunities to improve physician engagement. Results: There were 103 clinician respondents across Alliance members, of which 87 reported participation in a disease management team and were included in the final analysis. Most respondents reported high value from Alliance activities, such as attending MSK tumor boards (94%) and lecture series (96%), among those who reported them applicable. Across all respondents, most reported satisfaction with engagement opportunities, such as MSK physician participation in their institution’s meetings (76%). When asked where they would like to see increased engagement, the most commonly reported response was for more lecture series (45%). Most respondents (88%) reported that the Alliance led to practice change, either for themselves or for other clinicians at their institution. Many attributed this practice change to MSK disease-specific process measures. Conclusions: The activities most valued by community physicians were heavily physician relationship–based. The encouraging experience of the MSK Cancer Alliance suggests that activities involving physician investment may be effective for promoting practice change in the context of cross-institution relationships. Future research is needed in this area.

Submitted November 5, 2018; accepted for publication March 8, 2019.

Author contributions: Study concept and design: All authors. Data acquisition: Kennington, Kalman, Nair, Yu, Pfister. Data analysis: Lipitz-Snyderman, Kennington, Hogan. Writing of manuscript: Lipitz-Snyderman, Kennington, Hogan. Editing of manuscript: Korenstein, Kalman, Nair, Yu, Sabbatini, Pfister. Final approval: All authors.

Disclosures: The authors have disclosed that they have not received any financial considerations from any person or organization to support the preparation, analysis, results, or discussion of this article.

Correspondence: Allison Lipitz-Snyderman, PhD, Center for Health Policy and Outcomes, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 485 Lexington Avenue, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10017. Email: snyderma@mskcc.org

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