Participants in a National Cancer Institute-funded initiative are praising the program's ability to reduce disparities and improve health outcomes.
During a session at the American College of Healthcare Executives' Congress on Healthcare Leadership, held in Chicago, leaders from three hospitals discussed their successes in the NCI Community Cancer Centers Program, a public-private collaboration aimed at promoting equity, boosting quality and increasing clinical trial participation among underserved patient populations.
Spartanburg (S.C.) Regional Healthcare System, for instance, has implemented a number of interventions, including standardized collection of race and ethnicity data, expansion of interpreter services and partnerships with community-based organizations, said Bruce Holstien, the hospital's president and CEO.
“Failure to address equity and disparities has significant implications for quality, safety, cost and risk management, and it may soon affect accreditation,” Holstien said during the session.
Since joining the NCI initiative, Spartanburg has seen cancer screening and detection rates rise among racial and ethnic minority patients, he added.
Jeffrey Flaks, president and CEO of Hartford (Conn.) Hospital, said hospital leaders were driven to participate in the NCI initiative because of a need for clear baselines and a better understanding of the scope of the impact of disparities in cancer care.
“Prior to NCCCP, we were unstructured,” Flaks said. “In some parts of the organization, it occurred and in others, it did not.”
Since it began participating in the program, Hartford Hospital has seen significant drops in breast cancer mortality, as well as spikes in screening rates for prostate, cervical and other types of cancer, he added.
Launched in 2007 with 16 pilot sites, the NCI Community Cancer Centers Program now has 21 participating hospitals, said Donna O'Brien, NCI's special adviser for community healthcare programs.
The program's recommendations include addressing health disparities across the continuum of care and using standardized measures to track progress. More Live@ACHE Coverage