The National Cancer Institute launched a three-year, $15 million pilot program that aims to bring state-of-the-art cancer care to community hospitals across the country. Sixteen hospitals have already been selected to participate.
The program is designed to encourage collaboration between community hospitals and NCI research and its network of 63 NCI-designated cancer centers that are principally based at large research universities.
The program will research new ways to eliminate inequities in the healthcare system by aiming to assist, educate and treat the needs of underserved populations, including the elderly, rural, inner-city and low-income patients as well as racial and ethnic groups with unusually high cancer rates, NCI officials said in a news release.
The project also will emphasize the use of electronic medical records. The pilot will begin at eight free-standing community hospitals and eight other hospitals operated by healthcare systems. Five of the 16 hospitals selected for the project are part of Denver-based Catholic Health Initiatives, including three in Nebraska that have combined as a single regional site for the pilot.
The three other system-operated hospitals are part of St. Louis-based Ascension Health. NCI officials said a panel of experts will set milestones and monitor the progress and then issue recommendations for a full-fledged program. -- by Cinda Becker