June 21, 2023
We are thrilled to announce that our dedicated team has received the prestigious 2023 Innovator Award from the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC). ACCC recognizes visionary and compelling ideas in cancer care, those who pioneer achievements to improve the access, quality, and value in cancer care delivery and improve the care and outcomes for cancer patients. This accomplishment comes as a result of a groundbreaking quality improvement project conducted by OHC, focusing on comprehensive biomarker testing in patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (mNSCLC). Only six cancer programs in the nation received this award with OHC representing the only independent, community adult cancer practice to be recognized. The findings of this project were recently published in the prestigious Journal of Clinical Oncology by the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer and the Need for Biomarker Testing
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, accounting for a staggering 85% of all lung cancer cases. Biomarker testing plays a vital role in the care of NSCLC patients. Despite recommendations urging comprehensive biomarker testing for metastatic NSCLC (mNSCLC) patients, national testing rates have remained suboptimal, averaging 50-65%, leaving room for improvement.
David M. Waterhouse, MD, MPH, medical oncologist, hematologist, and director of early phase clinical trials at OHC, emphasized the importance of striving for higher testing rates. “With increased biomarker testing, we have the potential to uncover crucial information about the underlying mechanisms of NSCLC and identify targeted treatment options. This shift towards personalized medicine, if properly implemented, can provide the targeted therapies that have been proven to improve survival rates and quality of life.”
A Year of Progress and Transformation
With a clear mission to bridge this gap in care, OHC embarked on a year-long quality improvement project focused on implementing and standardizing comprehensive biomarker testing for patients with mNSCLC. The project adopted the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines and followed the Plan-Do-Study-Act methodology.
During the one-year intervention period, we witnessed a significant increase in OHC’s biomarker testing rates, improving from a historical rate of 68% to an impressive 92.7%. This achievement incorporated an implementation strategy that included physician education, automated data analytics, standardization template, and testing orders for mNSCLC. The standardization of those items provided a methodology for our doctors to achieve the highest compliance with the NCCN guidelines and biomarker testing. The implementation and standardization of comprehensive biomarker testing also proved to be feasible and immensely beneficial in large, community-based oncology practices. OHC looks to scale these results and apply them to other cancer disease states for bio-marker testing.
The Project Impact on Patient Outcomes
“We identified an opportunity within our own practice to improve our testing scores.” notes Dr. Waterhouse. “Half of all patients with advanced NSCLC contain a driver mutation. Driver mutations are DNA sequences that cause cells to become cancerous and grow in the body. The advances in lung cancer treatments over the last ten years have resulted in targeted therapies for such mutations. Bio-marker testing gives us an important snapshot of the patient’s tumor and what drives it. Currently, there are ten biomarkers that are actionable where available treatments may provide hope for some patients.”
Scaling the Project Nationwide
Recognizing the impact and potential of our study, we are delighted to share that our quality improvement project is now being scaled across the country through the US Oncology Network. This best-practice initiative aims to bring about positive changes in cancer care on a national scale, ensuring that more patients receive the biomarker testing they need to determine the most effective treatment of care.
“Quality is always top of mind at OHC, and this project exemplified our commitment to delivering the best care to our patients. Through the implementation of comprehensive biomarker testing, we aim to not only improve patient outcomes but also promote a team-based approach to healthcare. This collaborative approach and dedication were instrumental in achieving such significant results,” said Molly Mendenhall, RN, BSN, Quality Manager at OHC.
As we celebrate this remarkable achievement, we extend our gratitude to the ACCC for recognizing the importance of our study. We are excited to share our findings and collaborate with healthcare institutions nationwide to enhance patient outcomes and transform cancer care. Together, we can make a meaningful difference in the lives of patients and their families, offering them hope and improved chances in their battle against cancer.Comments (0)