Better Together 2017: It’s the Zip Code, Not the Genetic Code

Better Together Health

The fight against cancer involves more than new treatments and methods of prevention. Establishing coordinated systems to provide connected care is a key to helping millions of people to navigate their cancer journeys safely. At the Better Together Health 2017 event All Systems Go! Closing the Gaps in Cancer Care, which was co-sponsored by the Council of Accountable Physician Practices (CAPP) and the American Cancer Society, presenters and patients shared successfully examples of coordinated cancer care teams and their contribution to positive outcomes.

Speakers also highlighted the dramatic gaps that exist in the types of care and outcomes that patients experience, due to geography, economics, and ethnicity. Patients in Mississippi are almost five times as likely to die of breast cancer as those in other places. Latinas over the age of 40 are 10% less likely to have mammograms than white women, and white men have cancer mortality rates 27% lower than male African Americans.

There are new methods for early detection, therapy programs with great potential, and overall more cancer survivors than any time in history, but the health disparities caused by these factors mean that there are still unnecessary deaths because of lack of prevention and early detection, access to care, and variations in systems of care.

Strategies recommended for improving systems of care to close gaps include:

  • Foster physician-led initiatives to bring doctors together in collaborative teams
  • Use electronic health records for clinical management so that the care team can access and share the same information about a patient at any time
  • Motivating physicians to provide required preventative screenings by transitioning to an outcomes-based system of care

The benefits of making these improvements for cancer care have already been demonstrated in the Colon Cancer Moonshot run by the Southern California Permanente Medical Group. Dedicated to cutting colon cancer mortality in half within ten years, the initiative has already reduced mortality by 17% in three years by analyzing all stages of the cancer screening and treatment system and specifically addressing those points that distinctly affect survivorship. Watch Daria’s story to see how one patient’s life was impacted.

Presenters included:

  • Robert Pearl, MD, former chairman, Council of Accountable Physician Practices
  • Jayne O’Donnell, Moderator, Healthcare Policy Reporter, USA Today
  • John Fleming, MD, Office of the National Coordinator, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health Technology Reform
  • Danielle Carnival, PhD, Deputy Director, The Biden Foundation
  • Richard Wender, MD, Chief Cancer Control Officer, American Cancer Society
  • Alan Balch, PhD, CEO, Patient Advocate Foundation
  • John Bulger, DO, Chief Medical Officer for Population Health, Geisinger Health System
  • Michael Kanter, MD, Medical Director of Quality and Clinical Analysis, So. Cal. Permanente Medical Group
  • Laura Seeff, MD, Director of the Office of Health Systems Collaboration, CDC

Congratulations to CAPP and the ACS in shedding light on this important aspect of improving cancer care!

Read “The State of Cancer” paper here.

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