The mission of NCCN is to improve the quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of cancer care so that patients can live better lives. Improving medication safety is an important aspect of fulfilling this mission. In September 2014, the NCCN Best Practices Committee began a medication safety initiative to improve the safe use of vincristine. This article describes and discusses this initiative.
Jessica Sugalski, F. Marc Stewart, and Robert W. Carlson
William Levy, Suzanne Gagnet, and F. Marc Stewart
Daniel B. Martin, Sean Silas, Audrey Covner, Paul C. Hendrie, and F. Marc Stewart
Conversion to the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-10-CM) was mandated for October 1, 2014, but was delayed by one year. ICD-10 accommodates newly developed diagnoses and procedures and is expected to help measure quality of care. When implemented, it will impact oncology practices because of conversion costs, loss of productivity, and billing problems. Clinical documentation must meet the specificity required by ICD-10 codes or risk denial of payments, which are projected to dramatically increase. In preparation for the now delayed conversion, the ICD-10 transition team at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) examined the ICD-10 codes for primary hematology/oncology diagnoses and comorbidities of cancer and therapy seen at our institution to identify the need for and feasibility of developing a printable job aid to guide clinical documentation. We found that the variable complexity of ICD-10 codes in hematology/oncology frequently requires nonintuitive specificity likely to be overlooked without prompting. We were able to develop a succinct and facile documentation aid usable in both electronic and printed forms that includes all hematology/oncology diagnoses and the comorbidities most frequently seen in our multidisciplinary institution. This document is organized in a notebook format for easy review and will be continuously improved with feedback from practitioners. It is available for free download from the SCCA Web site.
David S. Ettinger, Michael Kuettel, Jennifer Malin, Joan S. McClure, Mary Lou Smith, Andrew D. Zelenetz, and F. Marc Stewart
Much has changed in the treatment of cancer since the first NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines) were rolled out for 8 different tumor types in November 1996. NCCN Guidelines now include involved algorithms often containing multiple treatment alternatives and detailed pathways of care that depend on more-specific patient characteristics and molecular tumor diagnostics. With 47 different individual NCCN panels, all members of the cancer care team are now better informed than ever to guide patients through the often complex decision-making required to improve the odds of successful outcomes. At the NCCN 20th Annual Conference, a distinguished panel assembled to take a closer look at these invaluable clinical practice guidelines, first glancing backward to how it all started and then forward to explore the key ingredients of trustworthy guidelines.
Jennifer L. Lyle, Jonathan L. Vandergrift, Jennifer M. Hinkel, Eva M. Lepisto, Kristie A. Cortazzo, Stephen Sherman, and F. Marc Stewart
Insight into factors important to fellows' decision-making about their career paths is critical to successfully developing program curricula, making capacity projections, and recruiting oncology physicians. This study was performed to determine the factors associated with post-fellowship career decision-making. Program evaluation surveys were administered to oncology fellows who attended the Fellows Recognition Program at the 2009 NCCN Annual Conference. A total of 125 (75%) fellows completed the initial survey. Overall, 73% of fellows reported participating in clinical research and 58% received formal training as part of their fellowship program. Receipt of formal training was correlated with greater program satisfaction (rs = 0.20; P = .03), feeling more prepared for a post-fellowship career (rs = 0.30; P < .001), and greater interest in clinical research post fellowship (rs = 0.32; P < .001). Interest in post-fellowship clinical research (rs = 0.49; P < .001) and importance of protected academic time (rs = 0.57; P < .001) were strongly correlated with interest in practicing in an academic environment, whereas institutional reputation (rs = 0.18; P = .04) and a multidisciplinary practice environment (rs = 0.22; P = .02) were moderately associated with interest. Location, salary, multidisciplinary environment, and flexible scheduling were the most important controllable lifestyle (CL) factors. These results suggest that fellowship programs may be able to foster a desire to participate in research and subsequent interest in practicing in an academic institution through providing opportunities for formal training in clinical research skills. However, even in an academic setting, CL factors are important to attracting and retaining faculty.
Katy Winckworth-Prejsnar, Elizabeth A. Nardi, James McCanney, F. Marc Stewart, Terry Langbaum, Bruce J. Gould, C. Lyn Fitzgerald, and Robert W. Carlson
The inability to obtain the right high-quality cancer care in a timely and safe manner can have devastating results for patients. As cancer care becomes inundated with cutting edge and novel treatments, such as personalized medicine, oral chemotherapy, biosimilars, and immunotherapy, new safety challenges are emerging at increasing speed and complexity. Moreover, shifting federal healthcare policies could have significant implications for the safety and access to high-quality and effective cancer care for millions of patients with cancer. Challenges and opportunities in ensuring patient access to safe, affordable, and high-quality cancer care remain significant within the policy landscape. To address these concerns, NCCN hosted the Ensuring Safety and Access in Cancer Care Policy Summit in June 2017 to discuss pertinent patient safety issues and access implications under the Trump administration, as well as policy and advocacy strategies to address these gaps and build on opportunities moving forward.
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.
Razelle Kurzrock, A. Dimitrios Colevas, Anthony Olszanski, Wallace Akerley, Carlos L. Arteaga, William E. Carson III, Jeffrey W. Clark, John F. DiPersio, David S. Ettinger, Robert J. Morgan Jr, Lee S. Schwartzberg, Alan P. Venook, Christopher D. Gocke, Jonathan Tait, and F. Marc Stewart
Background: With advances such as next-generation sequencing (NGS) increasing understanding of the basis of cancer and its response to treatment, NCCN believes it is important to understand how molecular profiling/diagnostic testing is being performed and used at NCCN Member Institutions and their community affiliates. Methods: The NCCN Oncology Research Program's Investigator Steering Committee and the NCCN Best Practices Committee gathered baseline information on the use of cancer-related molecular testing at NCCN Member Institutions and community members of the NCCN Affiliate Research Consortium through 2 separate surveys distributed in December 2013 and September 2014, respectively. Results: A total of 24 NCCN Member Institutions and 8 affiliate sites provided quantitative and qualitative data. In the context of these surveys, “molecular profiling/diagnostics” was defined as a panel of at least 10 genes examined as a diagnostic DNA test in a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)–certified laboratory. Conclusions: Results indicated that molecular profiling/diagnostics are used at 100% of survey respondents' institutions to make patient care decisions. However, challenges relating to reimbursement, lack of data regarding actionable targets and targeted therapies, and access to drugs on or off clinical trials were cited as barriers to integration of molecular profiling into patient care. Frameworks for using molecular diagnostic results based on levels of evidence, alongside continued research into the predictive value of biomarkers and targeted therapies, are recommended to advance understanding of the role of genomic biomarkers. Greater evidence and consensus regarding the clinical and cost-effectiveness of molecular profiling may lead to broader insurance coverage and increased integration into patient care.
Philip E. Johnson, George Dahlman, Kirby Eng, Rekha Garg, Scott Gottlieb, James M. Hoffman, Peyton Howell, Mohammad Jahanzeb, Shirley Johnson, Emily Mackler, Mark Rubino, Brenda Sarokhan, F. Marc Stewart, Tim Tyler, Julie M. Vose, Sharon Weinstein, Edward C. Li, and Jessica DeMartino
REMS are a particularly important issue for oncology and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). A disproportionate number of drugs with complex REMS are used in patients with cancer or hematologic disorders. REMS policies and processes within oncology may act as a model for other clinical areas. A breadth of experience and access to a wide knowledge base exists within oncology that will ensure appropriate development and consideration of the practical implications of REMS. NCCN is uniquely positioned to assume a leadership role in this process given its status as the arbiter of high-quality cancer care based on its world-leading institutions and clinicians. Notwithstanding the potential benefits, the successful design, implementation, and analysis of the FDA's recent requirement for REMS for some high-risk drugs and biologics will present significant challenges for stakeholders, including patients, providers, cancer centers, manufacturers, payors, health information technology vendors, and regulatory agencies. To provide guidance to these stakeholders regarding REMS challenges, the NCCN assembled a work group comprised of thought leaders from NCCN Member Institutions and other outside experts. The Work Group identified challenges across the REMS spectrum, including the areas of standardization, development and assessment of REMS programs, medication guides, provider knowledge and impact on prescribing, provider burden and compensation, and incorporation of REMS into clinical practice.
Masumi Ueda, Renato Martins, Paul C. Hendrie, Terry McDonnell, Jennie R. Crews, Tracy L. Wong, Brittany McCreery, Barbara Jagels, Aaron Crane, David R. Byrd, Steven A. Pergam, Nancy E. Davidson, Catherine Liu, and F. Marc Stewart
The first confirmed case of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the United States was reported on January 20, 2020, in Snohomish County, Washington. At the epicenter of COVID-19 in the United States, the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and University of Washington are at the forefront of delivering care to patients with cancer during this public health crisis. This Special Feature highlights the unique circumstances and challenges of cancer treatment amidst this global pandemic, and the importance of organizational structure, preparation, agility, and a shared vision for continuing to provide cancer treatment to patients in the face of uncertainty and rapid change.