Background: Addressing patients’ social determinants of health is a national priority for cancer treatment centers. Transportation insecurity is one major challenge for patients undergoing active cancer treatment, and missing treatments can result in worse cancer treatment outcomes, including worse morbidity and mortality. How cancer treatment centers are addressing transportation insecurity is understudied. Methods: In January and February 2022, the NCCN Best Practices Committee conducted a survey of NCCN’s 31 Member Institutions (currently 32 member institutions as of April 2022) to assess how centers were addressing patient transportation insecurity: how they screen for transportation insecurity, coordinate transportation, and fund transportation initiatives, and their plans to address transportation insecurity in the future. Results: A total of 25 of 31 (81%) NCCN Member Institutions responded to the survey, of which 24 (96%) reported supporting the transportation needs of their patients through screening, coordinating, and/or funding transportation. Patients’ transportation needs were most often identified by social workers (96%), clinicians (83%), or patients self-declaring their needs (79%). Few centers (33%) used routine screening approaches (eg, universal screening of social risk factors) to systematically identify transportation needs, and 54% used the support of technology platforms or a vendor to coordinate transportation. Transportation was predominantly funded via some combination of philanthropy (88%), grants (63%), internal dollars (63%), and reimbursement from insurance companies (58%). Over the next 12 months, many centers were either going to continue their current transportation programs in their current state (60%) or expand existing programs (32%). Conclusions: Many NCCN Member Institutions are addressing the transportation needs of their patients. Current efforts are heterogeneous. Few centers have systematic, routine screening approaches, and funding relies on philanthropy more so than institutional dollars or reimbursement from insurers. Opportunities exist to establish more structured, scalable, and sustainable programs for patients’ transportation needs.
Krisda H. Chaiyachati, Diana Krause, Jessica Sugalski, Evan M. Graboyes, and Lawrence N. Shulman
Nandita Khera, Jessica Sugalski, Diana Krause, Richard Butterfield III, Nan Zhang, F. Marc Stewart, Robert W. Carlson, Joan M. Griffin, S. Yousuf Zafar, and Stephanie J. Lee
Background: Financial distress from medical treatment is an increasing concern. Healthcare organizations may have different levels of organizational commitment, existing programs, and expected outcomes of screening and management of patient financial distress. Patients and Methods: In November 2018, representatives from 17 (63%) of the 27 existing NCCN Member Institutions completed an online survey. The survey focused on screening and management practices for patient financial distress, perceived barriers in implementation, and leadership attitudes about such practices. Due to the lack of a validated questionnaire in this area, survey questions were generated after a comprehensive literature search and discussions among the study team, including NCCN Best Practices Committee representatives. Results: Responses showed that 76% of centers routinely screened for financial distress, mostly with social worker assessment (94%), and that 56% screened patients multiple times. All centers offered programs to help with drug costs, meal or gas vouchers, and payment plans. Charity care was provided by 100% of the large centers (≥10,000 unique annual patients) but none of the small centers that responded (<10,000 unique annual patients; P=.008). Metrics to evaluate the impact of financial advocacy services included number of patients assisted, bad debt/charity write-offs, or patient satisfaction surveys. The effectiveness of institutional practices for screening and management of financial distress was reported as poor/very poor by 6% of respondents. Inadequate staffing and resources, limited budget, and lack of reimbursement were potential barriers in the provision of these services. A total of 94% agreed with the need for better integration of financial advocacy into oncology practice. Conclusions: Three-fourths of NCCN Member Institutions reported screening and management programs for financial distress, although the actual practices and range of services vary. Information from this study can help centers benchmark their performance relative to similar programs and identify best practices in this area.
Jessica M. Sugalski, Theresa Franco, Lawrence N. Shulman, Elizabeth Souza, Ephraim Hochberg, Anne Chiang, Scott Lawrence, Diana Krause, and Timothy Kubal
The NCCN Best Practices Committee, which is composed of senior physician, nursing, and administrative leaders from NCCN Member Institutions, evaluated the status of cancer center operations after 1 year of operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. Two major initiatives stood out: the increase in the utilization of network sites, and the gains made in telemedicine operations and reimbursement. Experts from NCCN Member Institutions participated in a webinar series in June 2021 to share their experiences, knowledge, and thoughts on these topics and discuss the impact on the future of cancer care.