Multidisciplinary Care ~ A Coordinated Approach to Cancer Treatment

By Dana Harris, Rex Healthcare

 

For Charles Holly, life seemed normal as a healthy 66-year-old man. After all, he didn’t have any major medical problems. But when he started experiencing a chest cough one day, he decided to visit his doctor to get it checked out. The chest X-ray came back clear, but Holly’s physician suggested he get further screening through a new lung CT scan that would detect if there were any problems beyond what the X-ray was capable of revealing. Not taking any chances, Holly set up the appointment. Little did he know the test results would change his life forever.

Holly discovered there were five tumors in his lungs. Further testing revealed all of them were malignant. He now faced a diagnosis of lung cancer, which has a smaller survival rate than many other types of cancers and

Charles Holly, cancer survivor with the help of a multidisciplinary team of experts.

is often more complex to treat. That’s why many hospitals have created multidisciplinary care programs to treat rare and complex cancers. These programs allow teams of medical professionals to collaborate and discuss the best approach to treating a person’s cancer. Holly’s journey began at the Rex Thoracic Multidisciplinary Care Program. There, he worked with nearly a dozen medical and support staff to fight his lung cancer and eventually become cancer-free.

What Is Multidisciplinary Care? Multidisciplinary care is a collaborative care model in which a team of health care professionals work together to provide the best possible treatment plan for the patient. The team typically consists of physicians with different sub-specialty backgrounds—advanced practitioners, a patient navigator and support services staff (social worker, nutritionist, etc.)—who help patients navigate their treatment from start to finish. In a typical health care environment, a patient would visit several physician specialists at different times and in different locations to get treated for each part of his or her disease. However, with multidisciplinary care a patient’s visit may include sitting in a room with all of the physician specialists while they discuss how all of their pieces of the treatment puzzle fit together to take care of the patient as a whole.

“The lens through which each physician looks at the patient is different given their professional training,” said Emmeline Madsen, manager of Cancer Specialty Services at Rex Cancer Center. “In a multidisciplinary care environment, the entire treatment plan for a patient is pieced together using those different expert lenses.”

Multidisciplinary care originated in an academic medical environment. Physicians often formed teams around a diagnosis and discussed the best way to treat it. The trend has since shifted more to community hospitals due to a growing need and desire for specialized cancer care closer to home for patients. As that care becomes more complex over time, some medical professionals believe the shift to multidisciplinary care will become imperative and will need to be adopted by more of the health care industry. In fact, Rex has already added another multidisciplinary care program to treat patients with gastrointestinal cancers because they have seen so much success with their Thoracic Multidisciplinary Care Program over the past year. There are also plans to start programs for breast and other types of cancers in the future.

“It’s not just one doctor figuring out what to do for you,” said Madsen. “It’s eight to ten doctors figuring out the best plan.”

Benefits to Patients and Physicians The initial shock of a cancer diagnosis can be devastating. A patient must learn how to adapt to a new way of life and a new reality. While that may be a difficult process, multidisciplinary care programs can help ease some of that anxiety.

With many programs, it only takes one phone call to get a patient’s treatment plan into motion. A coordinator compiles all of the patient’s medical records and sets up his or her appointments. Prior to the initial appointment, a team of specialists, which may include medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, a radiologist, a pathologist and other specialized physicians, carefully reviews the patient’s case. A patient care navigator is also assigned to the patient to serve as the point of contact for any questions or concerns.

“It allows the patient to put the focus on their healing and the most important things instead of all the intricate details,” explained Madsen. “The patient doesn’t have to be their own secretary, biller, or anything else. Instead, the patient is supported by us.”

Multidisciplinary care offers many benefits to the patient, including efficient use of time, reduced anxiety, fewer gaps in the hand-off of care from one physician to another, and multiple experts working towards one goal—the patient’s success.

“The advantages of being in the same practice were remarkable,” said Charles Holly, a patient at Rex Cancer Center. “It was very easy to get an appointment, it was very easy to get a follow up, and my doctors were working together as a team for my care. It wasn’t like they were all separate practices. I had all of my appointments in one place.”

“This efficient and coordinated approach enhances dialogue amongst disciplines and arguably leads to improved patient outcomes, while minimizing miscommunication between providers,” explained Dr. Jeremiah Boles, a medical oncologist at Rex Cancer Center and a member of Rex’s Thoracic Cancer Multidisciplinary Care Program.

Dr. Boles treated Holly during his time in the program. From a provider’s perspective, he and other physicians agree that multidisciplinary care allows them to be more effective as medical providers.

“Fewer of our cancer patients are treated by a single physician,” said Dr. Boles. “I am able to review pertinent information with my colleague, reduce duplication of unnecessary diagnostic testing, and decrease the time it takes to initiate therapy.”

In addition, there are benefits for primary care doctors who refer their patients to programs like these. They have the added benefit of knowing their patients aren’t disappearing into a large hospital system. The multidisciplinary team remains in constant contact with the primary care physician to keep them updated on the patient’s progress.

Availability Although the journey was tough, consisting of almost a month of twice-daily radiation treatments and heavy doses of chemotherapy over a period of several months, Holly is happy to report that today he is cancer-free. He credits his success to the multidisciplinary care model and the coordinated care he received from his team.

“I had total confidence in the care I was getting,” explained Holly. “They weren’t just treating my disease. They were treating the ‘whole me.’ It’s like we were on a shared journey.”

Multidisciplinary care programs for cancer treatment are available in the Triangle area, including at Rex Cancer Center in Raleigh. Rex currently has programs to treat thoracic and gastrointestinal cancers. Patients can call to set up an appointment or be referred by a doctor. To learn more about these programs, call 919.784.3105 or visit rexhealth.com/cancer.

Dana Harris works in the marketing and public relations office at Rex Healthcare.

 

Multidisciplinary Care ~ A Coordinated Approach to Cancer Treatment

by Dana Harris, Rex Healthcare

 

For Charles Holly, life seemed normal as a healthy 66-year-old man. After all, he didn’t have any major medical problems. But when he started experiencing a chest cough one day, he decided to visit his doctor to get it checked out. The chest X-ray came back clear, but Holly’s physician suggested he get further screening through a new lung CT scan that would detect if there were any problems beyond what the X-ray was capable of revealing. Not taking any chances, Holly set up the appointment. Little did he know the test results would change his life forever.

Holly discovered there were five tumors in his lungs. Further testing revealed all of them were malignant. He now faced a diagnosis of lung cancer, which has a smaller survival rate than many other types of cancers and is often more complex to treat. That’s why many hospitals have created multidisciplinary care programs to treat rare and complex cancers. These programs allow teams of medical professionals to collaborate and discuss the best approach to treating a person’s cancer. Holly’s journey began at the Rex Thoracic Multidisciplinary Care Program. There, he worked with nearly a dozen medical and support staff to fight his lung cancer and eventually become cancer-free.

What Is Multidisciplinary Care? Multidisciplinary care is a collaborative care model in which a team of health care professionals work together to provide the best possible treatment plan for the patient. The team typically consists of physicians with different sub-specialty backgrounds—advanced practitioners, a patient navigator and support services staff (social worker, nutritionist, etc.)—who help patients navigate their treatment from start to finish. In a typical health care environment, a patient would visit several physician specialists at different times and in different locations to get treated for each part of his or her disease. However, with multidisciplinary care a patient’s visit may include sitting in a room with all of the physician specialists while they discuss how all of their pieces of the treatment puzzle fit together to take care of the patient as a whole.

“The lens through which each physician looks at the patient is different given their professional training,” said Emmeline Madsen, manager of Cancer Specialty Services at Rex Cancer Center. “In a multidisciplinary care environment, the entire treatment plan for a patient is pieced together using those different expert lenses.”

Multidisciplinary care originated in an academic medical environment. Physicians often formed teams around a diagnosis and discussed the best way to treat it. The trend has since shifted more to community hospitals due to a growing need and desire for specialized cancer care closer to home for patients. As that care becomes more complex over time, some medical professionals believe the shift to multidisciplinary care will become imperative and will need to be adopted by more of the health care industry. In fact, Rex has already added another multidisciplinary care program to treat patients with gastrointestinal cancers because they have seen so much success with their Thoracic Multidisciplinary Care Program over the past year. There are also plans to start programs for breast and other types of cancers in the future.

“It’s not just one doctor figuring out what to do for you,” said Madsen. “It’s eight to ten doctors figuring out the best plan.”

Benefits to Patients and Physicians The initial shock of a cancer diagnosis can be devastating. A patient must learn how to adapt to a new way of life and a new reality. While that may be a difficult process, multidisciplinary care programs can help ease some of that anxiety.

With many programs, it only takes one phone call to get a patient’s treatment plan into motion. A coordinator compiles all of the patient’s medical records and sets up his or her appointments. Prior to the initial appointment, a team of specialists, which may include medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, a radiologist, a pathologist and other specialized physicians, carefully reviews the patient’s case. A patient care navigator is also assigned to the patient to serve as the point of contact for any questions or concerns.

“It allows the patient to put the focus on their healing and the most important things instead of all the intricate details,” explained Madsen. “The patient doesn’t have to be their own secretary, biller, or anything else. Instead, the patient is supported by us.”

Multidisciplinary care offers many benefits to the patient, including efficient use of time, reduced anxiety, fewer gaps in the hand-off of care from one physician to another, and multiple experts working towards one goal—the patient’s success.

“The advantages of being in the same practice were remarkable,” said Charles Holly, a patient at Rex Cancer Center. “It was very easy to get an appointment, it was very easy to get a follow up, and my doctors were working together as a team for my care. It wasn’t like they were all separate practices. I had all of my appointments in one place.”

“This efficient and coordinated approach enhances dialogue amongst disciplines and arguably leads to improved patient outcomes, while minimizing miscommunication between providers,” explained Dr. Jeremiah Boles, a medical oncologist at Rex Cancer Center and a member of Rex’s Thoracic Cancer Multidisciplinary Care Program.

Dr. Boles treated Holly during his time in the program. From a provider’s perspective, he and other physicians agree that multidisciplinary care allows them to be more effective as medical providers.

“Fewer of our cancer patients are treated by a single physician,” said Dr. Boles. “I am able to review pertinent information with my colleague, reduce duplication of unnecessary diagnostic testing, and decrease the time it takes to initiate therapy.”

In addition, there are benefits for primary care doctors who refer their patients to programs like these. They have the added benefit of knowing their patients aren’t disappearing into a large hospital system. The multidisciplinary team remains in constant contact with the primary care physician to keep them updated on the patient’s progress.

Availability Although the journey was tough, consisting of almost a month of twice-daily radiation treatments and heavy doses of chemotherapy over a period of several months, Holly is happy to report that today he is cancer-free. He credits his success to the multidisciplinary care model and the coordinated care he received from his team.

“I had total confidence in the care I was getting,” explained Holly. “They weren’t just treating my disease. They were treating the ‘whole me.’ It’s like we were on a shared journey.”

Multidisciplinary care programs for cancer treatment are available in the Triangle area, including at Rex Cancer Center in Raleigh. Rex currently has programs to treat thoracic and gastrointestinal cancers. Patients can call to set up an appointment or be referred by a doctor. To learn more about these programs, call 919.784.3105 or visit rexhealth.com/cancer.

Dana Harris works in the marketing and public relations office at Rex Healthcare.

 

Caption:

Charles Holly, cancer survivor with the help of a multidisciplinary team of experts.

 

Multidisciplinary Care ~ A Coordinated Approach to Cancer Treatment

by Dana Harris, Rex Healthcare

 

For Charles Holly, life seemed normal as a healthy 66-year-old man. After all, he didn’t have any major medical problems. But when he started experiencing a chest cough one day, he decided to visit his doctor to get it checked out. The chest X-ray came back clear, but Holly’s physician suggested he get further screening through a new lung CT scan that would detect if there were any problems beyond what the X-ray was capable of revealing. Not taking any chances, Holly set up the appointment. Little did he know the test results would change his life forever.

Holly discovered there were five tumors in his lungs. Further testing revealed all of them were malignant. He now faced a diagnosis of lung cancer, which has a smaller survival rate than many other types of cancers and is often more complex to treat. That’s why many hospitals have created multidisciplinary care programs to treat rare and complex cancers. These programs allow teams of medical professionals to collaborate and discuss the best approach to treating a person’s cancer. Holly’s journey began at the Rex Thoracic Multidisciplinary Care Program. There, he worked with nearly a dozen medical and support staff to fight his lung cancer and eventually become cancer-free.

What Is Multidisciplinary Care? Multidisciplinary care is a collaborative care model in which a team of health care professionals work together to provide the best possible treatment plan for the patient. The team typically consists of physicians with different sub-specialty backgrounds—advanced practitioners, a patient navigator and support services staff (social worker, nutritionist, etc.)—who help patients navigate their treatment from start to finish. In a typical health care environment, a patient would visit several physician specialists at different times and in different locations to get treated for each part of his or her disease. However, with multidisciplinary care a patient’s visit may include sitting in a room with all of the physician specialists while they discuss how all of their pieces of the treatment puzzle fit together to take care of the patient as a whole.

“The lens through which each physician looks at the patient is different given their professional training,” said Emmeline Madsen, manager of Cancer Specialty Services at Rex Cancer Center. “In a multidisciplinary care environment, the entire treatment plan for a patient is pieced together using those different expert lenses.”

Multidisciplinary care originated in an academic medical environment. Physicians often formed teams around a diagnosis and discussed the best way to treat it. The trend has since shifted more to community hospitals due to a growing need and desire for specialized cancer care closer to home for patients. As that care becomes more complex over time, some medical professionals believe the shift to multidisciplinary care will become imperative and will need to be adopted by more of the health care industry. In fact, Rex has already added another multidisciplinary care program to treat patients with gastrointestinal cancers because they have seen so much success with their Thoracic Multidisciplinary Care Program over the past year. There are also plans to start programs for breast and other types of cancers in the future.

“It’s not just one doctor figuring out what to do for you,” said Madsen. “It’s eight to ten doctors figuring out the best plan.”

Benefits to Patients and Physicians The initial shock of a cancer diagnosis can be devastating. A patient must learn how to adapt to a new way of life and a new reality. While that may be a difficult process, multidisciplinary care programs can help ease some of that anxiety.

With many programs, it only takes one phone call to get a patient’s treatment plan into motion. A coordinator compiles all of the patient’s medical records and sets up his or her appointments. Prior to the initial appointment, a team of specialists, which may include medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, a radiologist, a pathologist and other specialized physicians, carefully reviews the patient’s case. A patient care navigator is also assigned to the patient to serve as the point of contact for any questions or concerns.

“It allows the patient to put the focus on their healing and the most important things instead of all the intricate details,” explained Madsen. “The patient doesn’t have to be their own secretary, biller, or anything else. Instead, the patient is supported by us.”

Multidisciplinary care offers many benefits to the patient, including efficient use of time, reduced anxiety, fewer gaps in the hand-off of care from one physician to another, and multiple experts working towards one goal—the patient’s success.

“The advantages of being in the same practice were remarkable,” said Charles Holly, a patient at Rex Cancer Center. “It was very easy to get an appointment, it was very easy to get a follow up, and my doctors were working together as a team for my care. It wasn’t like they were all separate practices. I had all of my appointments in one place.”

“This efficient and coordinated approach enhances dialogue amongst disciplines and arguably leads to improved patient outcomes, while minimizing miscommunication between providers,” explained Dr. Jeremiah Boles, a medical oncologist at Rex Cancer Center and a member of Rex’s Thoracic Cancer Multidisciplinary Care Program.

Dr. Boles treated Holly during his time in the program. From a provider’s perspective, he and other physicians agree that multidisciplinary care allows them to be more effective as medical providers.

“Fewer of our cancer patients are treated by a single physician,” said Dr. Boles. “I am able to review pertinent information with my colleague, reduce duplication of unnecessary diagnostic testing, and decrease the time it takes to initiate therapy.”

In addition, there are benefits for primary care doctors who refer their patients to programs like these. They have the added benefit of knowing their patients aren’t disappearing into a large hospital system. The multidisciplinary team remains in constant contact with the primary care physician to keep them updated on the patient’s progress.

Availability Although the journey was tough, consisting of almost a month of twice-daily radiation treatments and heavy doses of chemotherapy over a period of several months, Holly is happy to report that today he is cancer-free. He credits his success to the multidisciplinary care model and the coordinated care he received from his team.

“I had total confidence in the care I was getting,” explained Holly. “They weren’t just treating my disease. They were treating the ‘whole me.’ It’s like we were on a shared journey.”

Multidisciplinary care programs for cancer treatment are available in the Triangle area, including at Rex Cancer Center in Raleigh. Rex currently has programs to treat thoracic and gastrointestinal cancers. Patients can call to set up an appointment or be referred by a doctor. To learn more about these programs, call 919.784.3105 or visit rexhealth.com/cancer.

Dana Harris works in the marketing and public relations office at Rex Healthcare.

Click here for a complete listing of past Live Well! (health and wellness) articles.

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