FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla--The member institutions of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) must adapt to the changing health care system and "help to shape that change in a positive manner for all in cancer care," William T. McGivney, PhD, said in his State of the NCCN address at the network's second annual conference. Dr. McGivney was recently named chief executive officer of the alliance.
The new CEO plans for the NCCN to take a more "visible, active, and influential role" in seven areas (outlined below). "I can assure you," he said, "that we will tackle this ambitious agenda vigorously, enthusiastically, and with a sense of urgency that it has to happen today."
1. Clinical policy development. In the United States for the last five to seven years, there has been a shift in responsibility for the development of clinical policy away from the practicing medical community, Dr. McGivney said.
"As leaders in oncology, we must assume responsibility for the development of clinical guidelines and policy, but clearly we must do it in a way that is evidence based," he noted. The NCCN is significantly committed to this endeavor, and in only two years has developed guidelines that cover 80% of cancers.
2. Outcomes data. In order to pursue an evidence-based guidelines approach, Dr. McGivney said, "we must continue to enhance our ability to collect, synthesize, and analyze data that evaluate our treatment of cancer patients in our member institutions."
This effort, he said, must focus on two areas: the ability of NCCN member institutions to conform their practices to the guidelines and to evaluate clinical outcomes, both intermediate and final, in a meaningful manner.
3. Business partnerships and relationships. Dr. McGivney, formerly with Aetna Health Plans, is responsible for exploring potential links between the NCCN and national insurers and employers who have an interest in ensuring quality cancer care on a national basis.
Clearly, he said, all constituencies of the health care community have different mechanisms for improving the delivery of health care. "We must all work together--managed care companies, employers, NCCN institutions, and all constituencies represented at the conference--to integrate these programs, so as to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and appropriateness of care delivered."
4. Clinical research. Similarly, he said, the NCCN and other health care constituencies must come together "to explore the different mechanisms available to assure the viability of the clinical research efforts of the NCCN institutions and of our nation's clinical research enterprise in general."
5. Public policy. The NCCN will have a clear and cogent presence in public policy debates on important patient care and clinical research efforts, he said. To accomplish this, the organization will bring together the views and expertise of the various member institutions.
6. Working with the general oncology community. Dr. McGivney stressed that the NCCN members must continue to fulfill their responsibility as major academic centers, "to translate the fruits of biomedical and clinical research into standard care."
7. Working with patient advocates. Perhaps most important, he said, "the NCCN must endeavor to hear patients' comments and suggestions, to understand their needs, and to work with those patients and their organized communities in the public policy arena, in patient education, and in assuring access to clinical trials where appropriate."