This workgroup was active in 2012-13, and ran 2 main initiatives: Building Patient Knowledge and Patient Interaction
The Rossy Cancer Network (RCN) performs its activities with one main goal in mind; to provide patients and their families a cancer care experience that can be deemed world-class. As such, patient-centered care and experience, as well as a commitment to active patient engagement, are at the core of Rossy Cancer Network initiatives.
The Patient Experience workgroup has a primary focus of ensuring that the quality of the patient experience is at the highest possible level, with the initiation of quality improvement initiatives towards this goal.
In order to truly reflect the needs of patients and their families, the patient experience workgroup collaborates with the following partners in all of their efforts:
1) Patient and family representatives
2) Support and community groups
3) Multi-disciplinary teams across the RCN
Apart from clinical factors such as cancer type and disease stage, patients’ experiences are profoundly impacted by their individual coping strategies, support networks and psychological assessment of their cancer diagnosis. As a result, interactions with care providers and the way in which care is delivered must be adaptable to the unique needs of each cancer patient in order to ensure a positive experience for all.
Examples of influential factors at the hospital level include:
1) The complexity of navigating the healthcare system
2) The way in which cancer information is communicated
3) The coordination of care
4) The level of physical and psychological comfort
These are all elements that the patient experience workgroup is monitoring to affect change where gaps arise and patients’ needs could be further satisfied. Hence the team aims to address key operational, navigation, access, physical, emotional and practical issues facing cancer patients throughout their continuum of care. The end goal is to optimize the cancer care experience for all RCN patients using the following principles:
1) Being responsive to patient needs
2) Building on existing expertise within the network
3) Leveraging unique competencies
4) Deploying effective tools and resources
5) Focusing on the design and implementation of impactful solutions
6) Continuously evaluating progress
In June 2012 a bilingual standardized outpatient satisfaction survey used across Canada; the Ambulatory Oncology Satisfaction Survey (AOPSS), was sent to patients served by the RCN. A similar widely used tool for hospitalized patients called the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey is planned. With 2000 patients surveyed yearly, the AOPSS tool will allow the RCN to compare its performance on several parameters of patient care and experience to healthcare institutions across Canada. These results will be publicly reported on the RCN scorecard along with other clinical and safety variables, and will inform the development and tracking of quality improvement initiatives. Furthermore, the RCN will benefit from a continuous enrichment of knowledge related to the needs of our patients.
Preliminary data analysis, and consultations with patients and RCN healthcare professionals, has identified three main areas for initial focus:
1) Emotional support
2) Information and support needs
3) Communication preferences
This has translated into collective planning towards two main improvement initiatives; the introduction of user-friendly technology that will enable patients to report their concerns and needs, and implementation of standardized distress screening by 2014-15. These initiatives will result in the following benefits for patients:
1) Improved dialogue between providers and patients
2) Improved communication of patient needs within the healthcare team
3) Timely interventions and tailored support services based on identified needs and symptoms
4) Standardized guidelines and clinical algorithms
5) Efficient patient-focused care delivery
As the technological infrastructure of the RCN advances, new ways to simplify navigation across the network and facilitate the transition and coordination of care will be explored. In parallel, efforts to improve access to care and relieve operational issues will become an increasing focus.
The overall aim going forward is to establish a common approach around patient centeredness, interactions, and communication with patients and families using standardized guidelines. This will require transformational leadership, training, and education. Moreover, it will require a greater understanding of patients’ preferences, primarily with respect to personalization of care, information needs, support needs, and decisions concerning treatment.