ROCKVILLE, Md., March 30, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- While research is delivering new therapies to fight cancer and policymakers are debating healthcare reform measures—a serious side effect of cancer continues to devastate patients and their families: financial toxicity. Worry over how patients will pay for their cancer treatment adds one more layer of stress and uncertainty at a time when their sole focus should be on getting well.
The Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) Financial Advocacy Services Guidelines provide a needed standard for the emerging field of oncology financial navigation. The guidelines create standardization for the role and responsibilities of professionals assisting patients with the complex financial issues related to cancer treatment. In response to the rapidly evolving healthcare landscape, the guidelines offer a roadmap for professional education and training for financial advocates, as well as potential metrics for measuring the value of these services for patients and access to care.
The guidelines were developed with guidance from the ACCC Financial Advocacy Network expert Advisory Committee, as well as members of the ACCC Executive Committee.
On the frontlines of care, as cancer treatments have become more complex and costly, with some cancers now chronic conditions, many cancer programs and practices have taken action to help patients navigate the complex healthcare financial landscape by adding dedicated staff to the care team to aid in the process and advocate for patients.
However, for most financial advocates, training has been "on the job," said oncology financial navigator Clara Lambert, BBA, OPN-CG, chair of the ACCC Financial Advocacy Network Advisory Committee. "Given the change and uncertainty in our healthcare system today, it is critical to have formal training, professional development, and consistency in financial advocacy services across programs."
These newest members of the cancer care team help patients—and often other staff members—understand the financial landscape and connect to information and resources. But to be effective, intervening early with patients and their potential financial toxicity is critical, according to oncologist Yousuf Zafar, MD, MHS, Associate Professor of Medicine and Public Policy at Duke Cancer Institute and member of the ACCC Financial Advocacy Network Advisory Committee. "Best practice involves identifying at-risk patients early in the treatment process to prevent high out-of-pocket costs. Digging patients out from under medical debt is a lot more challenging."
ACCC has long recognized the necessity for this new role in delivery of quality patient-centered care. In 2011, ACCC established the Financial Advocacy Network to provide resources and education for cancer program staff that help patients with the financial fallout of cancer. In 2017, ACCC launched the Financial Advocacy Boot Camp, the first online-training for staff who help patients navigate economic barriers to care access. Learn more at accc-cancer.org/FAN.
The Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) is the leading advocacy and education organization for the multidisciplinary cancer care team. More than 24,000 cancer care professionals from over 2,100 hospitals and practices nationwide are affiliated with ACCC. Providing a national forum for addressing issues that affect community cancer programs, ACCC is recognized as the premier provider of resources for the entire oncology care team. Our members include medical and radiation oncologists, surgeons, cancer program administrators and medical directors, senior hospital executives, practice managers, pharmacists, oncology nurses, radiation therapists, social workers, and cancer program data managers. For more information, visit ACCC's website at www.accc-cancer.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and read our blog, ACCCBuzz.
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SOURCE Association of Community Cancer Centers