Blog Post

Support services insights: How to take survivorship to the next level

July 26, 2016

    This is part of a weekly series on results from our 2015 national benchmarking survey on cancer program support services volumes, staffing, and operations.

    Beyond meeting the Commission on Cancer requirements for providing survivorship care plans, many organizations are interested in survivorship clinics as a way to improve patient satisfaction and quality of care. Read on to see how your peers are using survivorship clinics to meet patients’ physical and psychosocial needs after treatment.

    Academic medical centers most likely to offer survivorship clinics

    Of the 154 cancer programs that completed our Cancer Support Services Volumes, Staffing, and Operations Survey, 37% offered a survivorship clinic. As shown below, academic medical centers (AMCs) were the most likely to offer survivorship clinics with 63% offering a clinic compared to less than 40% of teaching hospitals and less than 25% of community hospitals.

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    Most survivorship clinics are staffed by an advanced practitioner

    We asked programs that offered a survivorship clinic which FTEs were dedicated to running and operating the clinic. Advanced practitioners were the most common response with over 93% of the cancer programs reporting that at least 0.5 FTE advanced practitioner was dedicated to the clinic. RNs, cancer physicians, and social workers were also common staff.

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    Emerging evidence of survivorship clinic benefits

    Although survivorship clinics are not required by the CoC, a recent study at Gundersen Health System highlights the significant impact that survivorship clinics can have on patients’ satisfaction with their care and likelihood of keeping appointments.

    Researchers found that patients who participated in survivorship clinics were more likely to adhere to the NCCN guidelines for follow-up appointments and preventative treatment. These patients also reported greater satisfaction with their care. 93% percent of survivorship attendees reported that they felt their practical concerns were addressed compared to 72% of non-attendees, and 62% said their long-term adverse effects were highly addressed compared to only 38% of non-attendees. This study illustrates the benefit of investing in survivorship, not only to meet CoC standards, but also because of the real clinical improvement it can bring to patient care.

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