Written by Megan Fitzgerald and Alina Afinogenova, students in the Health Law and Policy Clinic, Fall 2017.
On November 9, 2017, we had the opportunity to attend Revolutionizing Complex Cancer Care in the Community, a policy summit in Washington, D.C. on the Association of Community Cancer Centers’ Optimal Care Coordination Model (OCCM) for lung cancer care. This event, co-hosted by ACCC and CHLPI, was designed to educate attendees on the OCCM and obtain their feedback on how the model aligns with current state and federal policy priorities. The summit brought together a broad spectrum stakeholders in the lung cancer space, including representatives from five cancer programs that are currently testing the model, federal policymakers, and other interested health care organizations.
A major theme of the summit was the idea of continuity. Dr. Raymond Osarogiagbon opened his keynote address by stating, “Discovery, without implementation, is dead.” This powerful message was echoed throughout the summit—the idea that every challenge presents an opportunity for discovery and innovation, and every discovery presents a new set of challenges. We found this message to be particularly powerful as it embodied both a celebration of the progress made as well as an acknowledgment of the challenges yet to come.
In the lung cancer space, access to care and care coordination remain major challenges, particularly for the Medicaid population. Many of the presenters, therefore, highlighted how they have used the OCCM to innovate and improve their capacity to deliver coordinated, patient-centered care that addresses the unique barriers experienced by Medicaid populations. OCCM testing site representatives also emphasized the OCCM’s role in addressing challenges related to accountability. Speakers explained that having the OCCM as an assessment tool not only allowed the sites to honestly assess their own activities and identify the areas in which they could improve, but also gave internal champions a platform from which they could encourage others to improve and meet their targets.
Additionally, the event captured the very real and emotional challenges that lung cancer patients face in seeking care. Despite the OCCM’s focus on gathering and utilizing data, the importance of the human element remained apparent throughout the event. Hearing about the experiences of one patient still waiting for care and another who won the battle against lung cancer was powerful, and really brought home the importance of the coordination efforts that are being implemented by these organizations.
Finally, it was incredible to see the level of enthusiasm in the room throughout the event. Attendees were enthusiastic about the model and eager to contribute their thoughts, concerns, and successes regarding its implementation. Participants were also happy to share connections and resources, which was encouraging to see given the current turbulence in the health care space. Overall, it was an incredible opportunity to attend the summit and be a part of a conversation that will hopefully help to shape the delivery of lung cancer care in the United States in the years to come.