Cancer Survival Rates Improve with Health Care Delivery Innovations

Washington, D.C. (May 30, 2017) – Connected, coordinated systems of care are the key to saving lives and improving clinical outcomes for cancer patients, according to results presented at “All Systems Go! Closing the Gaps in Cancer Care,” the third annual Better Together Health event. Sponsored by the Council of Accountable Physician Practices (CAPP), a coalition of leading multispecialty medical groups, and the American Cancer Society (ACS), the event was held May 24 in Washington, D.C. at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health. Representatives from CAPP, the ACS, the Biden Foundation, the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Geisinger Health System, the Southern California Permanente Medical Group, and the Patient Advocate Foundation participated in the discussion.

“Americans face huge gaps in medical care, particularly when it comes to cancer,” said Robert Pearl, MD, chairman of CAPP, CEO of The Permanente Medical Group, and the president and CEO of the Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group. “Across the country there are difficulties with access to care and preventive screenings. As a result, the likelihood of surviving cancer is lower than it needs to be. Outcomes vary by geography, economic status, race and ethnicity, and insured status. People die unnecessarily — not because we don’t know what to do, but as a result of the fragmentation of the current health care system, the absence of the most modern information technology, and frequent problems with access to care.

“We have the opportunity to change the system — to bring physicians together through integrated multi-specialty medical groups, link them electronically through comprehensive health records, and motivate them to provide all of the required preventive screenings. Through effective physician leadership we can structure care delivery to eliminate delays and avoid potential errors, help patients get treatment earlier, increase survival rates, and reduce disparities. The time for change is now.”

“This is a time of great promise in cancer care,” said Richard C. Wender, MD, chief cancer control officer of the American Cancer Society. “We have proven strategies for prevention and early detection, new therapies that hold tremendous potential, and more cancer survivors than ever before. But the fact is, when it comes to health, zip code matters more than genetic code. We cannot truly deliver on the promise we see until we eliminate health disparities within our communities. Working together we must ensure everyone has access to the navigation and coordinated care they need.”

The “Colon Cancer Moonshot” is an example of one successful initiative conducted by the Southern California Permanente Medical Group, which set a goal to reduce mortality from colon cancer by 50 percent in 10 years. By analyzing every phase of cancer screening and treatment process, and identifying and addressing those that impacted survivorship, mortality has been reduced by 17 percent in just three years. Screening rates for colon cancer, which were at 45 percent of patients (the national average) jumped to 90 percent. See the video of one patient’s story presented in the program here.

Another example from Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania showed the impact of closely coordinated health care teams and patient centered care that helped avoid potentially dangerous complications and restore the health of a teenaged cancer patient. See the patient video here.

Additional panelists and speakers at the event included:

  • Jayne O’Donnell, Health Policy Reporter, USA Today, Moderator
  • Alan Balch, PhD, CEO, Patient Advocate Foundation
  • John Bulger, DO, Chief Medical Officer for Population Health, Geisinger Health System
  • John Fleming, MD, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health Technology Reform, Office of the National Coordinator, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
  • Michael Kanter, MD, Medical Director of Quality and Clinical Analysis, Southern California Permanente Medical Group
  • Laura Seeff, MD, Director of the Office of Health Systems Collaboration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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Doctor reviewing electronic recordsBlack woman receiving cancer treatment IV and injection from caucasian nurse