This slide show features 8 ways oncologists can create value in cancer care, from building a great team of staff members to staying on top of the latest developments in your field.
1. Krasner MS; Epstein RM, Beckman H, et al. Association of an educational program in mindful communication with burnout, empathy, and attitudes among primary care physicians. JAMA. 2009;302:1284-93.Read here.
Do not be afraid to say no to patients who you deem unfit for chemotherapy. Be willing to face the sad truth when your treatment, no matter how fervently you command it to be beneficial, turns out to be a failure. Think of hospice as a blessing, not a death sentence. Artwork by Jon Carter, cartertoons.com.
If you think your 82-year-old lung cancer patient might harbor a treatable mutation, order the test-even if it requires a repeat biopsy. If we define value as the best treatment, then take the effort to find those who are eligible for it.
The more time you spend with your patients in the clinic, in the treatment room, or on the telephone, the less likely they are to bypass you when they need help. One extra office visit may avoid a $25,000 hospital stay.
No matter how laborious or how lengthy, keep searching for staff members who meet your standards of excellence, and then make them your equal.
Read constantly-if you look away for even just a few weeks, you will miss more than one valuable new development. Crafty minds are developing biologics that more effectively exploit a tumor’s dependence on specific oncogenes. Commit yourself to expanding your fund of knowledge to keep pace.
Scrutinizing and double-checking are vital to avoiding duplicate testing, errors, and waste. Become a master at deciphering the secrets found within your patients and their medical records, and you will save everyone money.
The referring physicians, surgeons, radiation oncologists (and a whole lot more folks) want to know what you are up to with their patient. Never fail to communicate major developments such as changes in chemotherapy to your peers. Make your practice transparent, not esoteric!
Ironically, the key activity cancer professionals use in order to fulfill their duty is the same source of their distress: face-to-face contact with seriously ill people, every day. I whole-heartedly agree that learning the skill called “mindfulness” reduces stress and inoculates us against the dangers associated with symptoms of burnout. Caring for cancer patients is a tough job. We who have made this commitment reserve the right to help ourselves become human centers of excellence-and that, my friends, is money well spent.