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  • Author: Randall F. Holcombe x
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Randall F. Holcombe, Claire F. Verschraegen, Andrew E. Chapman, David Gaffney, Richard M. Goldberg, Ruben A. Mesa, Mohammed Milhem, Martha Mims, Edith P. Mitchell, Dan Mulkerin and Srinivasan Vijayakumar

Background: Translation of basic discoveries to clinical care for patients with cancer is a difficult process greatly enabled by physician-trained researchers. Three categories of physicians, with responsibilities spanning from laboratory and preclinical research to direct patient care, are involved in the translational research continuum: physician-scientist (PS), clinician investigator (CI), and academic clinician (AC). Methods: To define how protected time for research efforts is supported, the Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI) conducted a survey of their member institutions, obtaining 56 responses documenting time spent in research and clinical activities across multiple cancer disciplines, and providing information about funding streams for the different categories of cancer physicians. Results: Responses showed that PSs and ACs are minimally involved in clinical research activities; the driver or clinical research in academic cancer centers is the CI. A significant concern was a lack of stable funding streams for nonbillable clinical research activities, putting the sustainability of the CI in jeopardy. Limited funding was derived from hospital sources, with most support derived from cancer center sources. Conclusions: This study highlights the importance of the CI in translational cancer medicine and represents a call to action for institutions and research funding agencies to develop new programs targeted toward CI support to ensure continued progress against cancer.

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Stanton L. Gerson, Kate Shaw, Louis B. Harrison, Randall F. Holcombe, Laura Hutchins, Carrie B. Lee, Patrick J. Loehrer Sr, Daniel Mulkerin, W. Thomas Purcell, Lois Teston, Louis M. Weiner and George J. Weiner

Background: Cancer care coordination across major academic medical centers and their networks is evolving rapidly, but the spectrum of organizational efforts has not been described. We conducted a mixed-methods survey of leading cancer centers and their networks to document care coordination and identify opportunities to improve geographically dispersed care. Methods: A mixed-methods survey was sent to 91 cancer centers in the United States and Canada. We analyzed the number and locations of network sites; access to electronic medical records (EMRs); clinical research support and participation at networks; use of patient navigators, care paths, and quality measures; and physician workforce. Responses were collected via Qualtrics software between September 2017 and December 2018. Results: Of the 69 responding cancer centers, 74% were NCI-designated. Eighty-seven percent of respondents were part of a matrix health system, and 13% were freestanding. Fifty-six reported having network sites. Forty-three respondents use navigators for disease-specific populations, and 24 use them for all patients. Thirty-five respondents use ≥1 types of care path. Fifty-seven percent of networks had complete, integrated access to their main center’s EMRs. Thirty-nine respondents said the main center provides funding for clinical research at networks, with 22 reporting the main center provides all funding. Thirty-five said the main center provided pharmacy support at the networks, with 15 indicating the main center provides 100% pharmacy support. Certification program participation varied extensively across networks. Conclusions: The data show academic cancer centers have extensive involvement in network cancer care, often extending into rural communities. Coordinating care through improved clinical trial access and greater use of patient navigation, care paths, coordinated EMRs, and quality measures is likely to improve patient outcomes. Although it is premature to draw firm conclusions, the survey results are appropriate for mapping next steps and data queries.