Clinical practice guidelines can be used to help develop measures of quality of cancer care. This article describes the use of a Cancer Care Quality Measurement System (CCQMS) to monitor these measures for colorectal cancer in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). The CCQMS assessed practice guideline concordance primarily based on colon (14 indicators) and rectal (11 indicators) cancer care guidelines of the NCCN. Indicators were developed with input from VHA stakeholders with the goal of examining the continuum of diagnosis, neoadjuvant therapy, surgery, adjuvant therapy, and survivorship surveillance and/or end-of-life care. In addition, 9 measures of timeliness of cancer care were developed. The measures/indicators formed the basis of a computerized data abstraction tool that produced reports on quality of care in real-time as data were entered. The tool was developed for a 28-facility learning collaborative, the Colorectal Cancer Care Collaborative (C4), aimed at improving colorectal cancer (CRC) care quality. Data on 1373 incident stage I–IV CRC cases were entered over approximately 18 months and were used to target and monitor quality improvement activities. The primary opportunity for improvement involved surveillance colonoscopy and services in patients after curative-intent treatment. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology were successfully used to develop a measurement system for a VHA research–operations quality improvement partnership.
George L. Jackson, Leah L. Zullig, S. Yousuf Zafar, Adam A. Powell, Diana L. Ordin, Ziad F. Gellad, David Abbott, James M. Schlosser, Janis Hersh and Dawn Provenzale
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.