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  • Author: Kavitha J. Ramchandran x
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Brook A. Calton, Amy Alvarez-Perez, Diane G. Portman, Kavitha J. Ramchandran, Jessica Sugalski, and Michael W. Rabow

Background: ASCO and IOM recommend palliative care (PC) across health care settings for patients with serious illnesses, including cancer. This study provides an overview of the current availability, structure, and basic quality of PC services within NCCN Member Institutions. Methods: A PC survey was developed by NCCN staff and a working group of PC experts from 11 NCCN Member Institutions under the auspices of the NCCN Best Practices Committee. The survey was piloted and refined by 3 working group members and sent electronically to all 26 NCCN Member Institutions. NCCN staff and working group leaders analyzed the survey data. Results: A total of 22 of 26 institutions responded (85%). All respondents (100%) reported an inpatient PC consult service (staffed by an average of 6.8 full-time equivalents [FTEs], seeing 1,031 consults/year with an average length of stay [LOS] of 10 days). A total of 91% of respondents had clinic-based PC (with an average of 469 consults/year, staffed by an average of 6.8 FTEs, and a 17-day wait time). For clinics, a comanagement care delivery model was more common than strict consultation. Home-based PC (23%) and inpatient PC units (32%) were less prevalent. Notably, 80% of institutions reported insufficient PC capacity compared with demand. Across PC settings, referrals for patients with solid tumors were more common than for hematologic malignancies. Automatic or “triggered” referrals were rare. The most common services provided were symptom management (100%) and advance care planning (96%). Most programs were funded through fee-for-service billing and institutional support. Partnerships with accountable care organizations and bundled payment arrangements were infrequent. PC program data collection and institutional funding for PC research were variable across institutions. Conclusions: Despite the prevalence of PC inpatient and clinic services among participating NCCN Member Institutions, PC demand still exceeds capacity. Opportunities exist for expansion of home-based PC and inpatient PC units, optimizing referrals, research, and payer collaborations.

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Peter D. Stetson, Nadine J. McCleary, Travis Osterman, Kavitha Ramchandran, Amye Tevaarwerk, Tracy Wong, Jessica M. Sugalski, Wallace Akerley, Annette Mercurio, Finly J. Zachariah, Jonathan Yamzon, Robert C. Stillman, Peter E. Gabriel, Tricia Heinrichs, Kathleen Kerrigan, Shiven B. Patel, Scott M. Gilbert, and Everett Weiss

Background: Collecting, monitoring, and responding to patient-generated health data (PGHD) are associated with improved quality of life and patient satisfaction, and possibly with improved patient survival in oncology. However, the current state of adoption, types of PGHD collected, and degree of integration into electronic health records (EHRs) is unknown. Methods: The NCCN EHR Oncology Advisory Group formed a Patient-Reported Outcomes (PRO) Workgroup to perform an assessment and provide recommendations for cancer centers, researchers, and EHR vendors to advance the collection and use of PGHD in oncology. The issues were evaluated via a survey of NCCN Member Institutions. Questions were designed to assess the current state of PGHD collection, including how, what, and where PGHD are collected. Additionally, detailed questions about governance and data integration into EHRs were asked. Results: Of 28 Member Institutions surveyed, 23 responded. The collection and use of PGHD is widespread among NCCN Members Institutions (96%). Most centers (90%) embed at least some PGHD into the EHR, although challenges remain, as evidenced by 88% of respondents reporting the use of instruments not integrated. Forty-seven percent of respondents are leveraging PGHD for process automation and adherence to best evidence. Content type and integration touchpoints vary among the members, as well as governance maturity. Conclusions: The reported variability regarding PGHD suggests that it may not yet have reached its full potential for oncology care delivery. As the adoption of PGHD in oncology continues to expand, opportunities exist to enhance their utility. Among the recommendations for cancer centers is establishment of a governance process that includes patients. Researchers should consider determining which PGHD instruments confer the highest value. It is recommended that EHR vendors collaborate with cancer centers to develop solutions for the collection, interpretation, visualization, and use of PGHD.

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NCCN Guidelines® Insights: Palliative Care, Version 2.2021

Featured Updates to the NCCN Guidelines

Maria Dans, Jean S. Kutner, Rajiv Agarwal, Justin N. Baker, Jessica R. Bauman, Anna C. Beck, Toby C. Campbell, Elise C. Carey, Amy A. Case, Shalini Dalal, Danielle J. Doberman, Andrew S. Epstein, Leslie Fecher, Joshua Jones, Jennifer Kapo, Richard T. Lee, Elizabeth T. Loggers, Susan McCammon, William Mitchell, Adeboye B. Ogunseitan, Diane G. Portman, Kavitha Ramchandran, Linda Sutton, Jennifer Temel, Melissa L. Teply, Stephanie Y. Terauchi, Jane Thomas, Anne M. Walling, Finly Zachariah, Mary Anne Bergman, Ndiya Ogba, and Mallory Campbell

Palliative care has evolved to be an integral part of comprehensive cancer care with the goal of early intervention to improve quality of life and patient outcomes. The NCCN Guidelines for Palliative Care provide recommendations to help the primary oncology team promote the best quality of life possible throughout the illness trajectory for each patient with cancer. The NCCN Palliative Care Panel meets annually to evaluate and update recommendations based on panel members’ clinical expertise and emerging scientific data. These NCCN Guidelines Insights summarize the panel’s recent discussions and highlights updates on the importance of fostering adaptive coping strategies for patients and families, and on the role of pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic interventions to optimize symptom management.