ASCO Updates Template for Survivorship Care Plans

October 31, 2014
Janet Colwell
Janet Colwell

ASCO has issued a new online template to assist oncologists with creating survivorship care plans for their patients following active therapy.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has issued a new online template to assist oncologists with creating survivorship care plans (SCP) for their patients following active therapy.

The revised template addresses some of the barriers faced by oncologists in implementing SCPs-such as lack of time-by focusing on the most critical information in a streamlined format. The plans, which were first recommended by the Institute of Medicine almost a decade ago, consist of a treatment summary and follow-up care plan to facilitate coordination among the oncology team, patient, primary care physician (PCP), and any other key health care providers following active treatment.

“The cleaner, simpler form will help healthcare professionals get survivorship care plans into the hands of patients,” said Deborah K. Mayer, PhD, RN, chair of the ASCO Survivorship Care Plan Working Group. The template was published the Journal of Oncology Practice as part of an ASCO statement on SCPs and can be downloaded from ASCO’s website.

According to the statement, the treatment summary should contain contact information for providers and treatment centers; basic diagnostic and staging information; and details on surgery, radiation therapy, systemic therapy, and ongoing significant toxicities. The follow-up care plan provides information on surveillance to detect recurrence and late adverse effects; interventions to manage ongoing problems; age- and gender-appropriate care, including screening; and general health promotion.

The authors emphasized that processes and systems must be developed to coordinate collection and distribution of relevant data for SCPs. In addition, technology, particularly EHRs, has “great but unrealized potential to facilitate the SCP process.”

“Given that the information required in the SCP may come from multiple providers, centralized information technology systems through which multiple users can input or access information can be helpful, greatly facilitating gathering the necessary information needed to complete the SCP,” the authors wrote. “This potential will not be fulfilled until a number of barriers are addressed.”

Those barriers include lack of adoption of EHRs by all providers, inconsistent interoperability across software systems, and limited functionalities of EHRs. The goal is for EHRs to feed relevant data directly into SCPs and offer other useful functionalities, such as ordering lab and imaging tests on a regular schedule; issuing alerts to physicians about overdue tests; and allowing patients to enter their toxicity experiences online.

“Future studies will be required to determine if there is an increased uptake of the SCP to ensure that patients and PCPs are receiving adequate information about the course of care and to understand what barriers may or may not have been addressed,” the authors wrote. “Furthermore, disease-specific templates and support tools may be considered for future development.”