Accredited hospitals must help patients navigate cancer care

In keeping with the trend toward more patient-centered care, hospitals must include a patient navigation process in their cancer programs in order to receive accreditation, the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) announced last week.

The new patient-centered standards are designed to help cancer patients work with their interdisciplinary cancer treatment team and become active partners in their own care.

Accredited programs must provide a navigation process that addresses healthcare disparities and barriers to cancer care, a screening process for psychosocial distress, and a survivorship care plan that documents received care and seeks to improve the quality of life of cancer patients, according to the ACS.

Under the new standards, accredited hospital cancer programs also must reach certain performance measures for breast, colon, and rectal cancer treatment, evaluating their quality of care against national standards.

So far, such patient navigation services lead to effectively reducing hospitals readmissions for patients age 65 and older, according to July studies published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, a Journal of the American of Medical Association.

For more:
- read the American College of Surgeons press release

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