Vicki Kennedy, LCSW, Vice President of Program Development & Delivery for the Cancer Support Community, emphasizes the importance of understanding all the dimensions of a patient's life. Considering the emotional, social, and financial aspects of a person's life are all important pieces of the treatment equation and necessary for receiving quality care.
Vicki Kennedy points out that it is difficult to define adequate psychosocial care since the needs of each patient vary greatly. More importantly, oncology professionals need to be able to help patients identify their problems and concerns and then find them the resources they need to address those needs.
Vicki Kennedy explains that there are many groups working to bring awareness to the importance of psychosocial care. Providing resources for psychosocial support services is no longer just a nice thing to do, but a critical part of quality care.
According to Vicki Kennedy, early research indicates that psychosocial support can provide cost-savings by reducing hospital readmissions, decreased emergency department visits, and better utilization of staff. There are many groups doing research to determine the cost-effectiveness of these new patient standards.
According to Vicki Kennedy, practice and clinical managers can play a vital role in identifying patient needs and in providing information about resources available to patients. Practice and clinical managers can help bring resource information into the practice and make it readily available to patients.
Lillie Shockney suggests that one of the best ways for navigators to access resources for their patients is by looking to options available in their community.
Beginning a navigation program can be intimidating, and there is no one program that fits every institution. Lillie recommends visiting other institutions that have established programs as a starting point. She also explains that practices need to look at their own operations management process in order to determine what will work best for their institution.
Although it is no small task, Lillie explains that achieving the Commission on Cancer Accreditation is important and offers the benefit of becoming an NCI-designated cancer center. This is something savvy consumers are looking for when seeking cancer care.
Lillie discusses the disadvantages for institutions that are not Commission on Cancer accredited, including difficulties drawing newly diagnosed consumers and referring physicians to the practice. The accreditation requires the practice to meet certain standards that are important to cancer care and survivorship.
In addition to visiting other institutions that have established navigation programs, Lillie explains that AONN+ is an excellent resource for establishing navigation programs. As a professional organization with a membership of navigators, they have information about how to train navigators, how to continue education, and what new resources are available to break barriers.
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