McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

New project to help integrate cancer care providers, improve patient experience

By the Daily News
Published: April 16, 2014
Jonathan Sussman
Dr. Jonathan Sussman, an associate professor in the Department of Oncology

A cancer diagnosis instantly puts a patient into a complex series of relationships with oncologists, the family doctor and other health care providers, adding undue stress and anxiety to treatment and care.

Jonathan Sussman wants to ease that anxiety.

The associate professor of oncology has received an $825,000 grant from the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer to lead a project that will help family physicians and oncologists better integrate their cancer care.

The research will build on Sussman’s personal experience of being a family physician prior to becoming a radiation oncologist.

"Before, during and after treatment for cancer, patients go back and forth between cancer specialists and their family doctor with various issues that may or may not relate to their diagnosis," said Sussman. "Effective integration between regional cancer programs and family doctors on behalf of the patient is essential throughout their journey, but currently, there is little data available that would help to determine the best approach."

The study will bring together an experienced team of researchers and care providers from Cancer Care Ontario, Cancer Care Manitoba and the British Columbia Cancer Agency to test innovative ways to improve provider integration and support the continuity of cancer care for patients.

The team will focus on three specific areas:

  • Development of a collaborative residency training curriculum to facilitate early training education and strengthen relationships between primary care residents and oncology residents though a structured training program.
  • Analysis of re-entry support structures and processes by regional cancer programs to understand how to better support primary care providers.
  • Development and pilot of an electronic platform for survivorship care plans to enhance knowledge exchange between providers and continuity of care of patients during transition.

"When implemented, these projects will enhance quality of care, increase system efficiencies and will ultimately improve patient and provider experiences with transitions in care," said Sussman. "The Partnership’s support and significant funding for this initiative is crucial in helping to elevate the importance of primary care and cancer care integration.

Sussman’s grant is one of 14 initiatives being funded by the Partnership as part of a $13 million dollar investment over three years (2014 – 2017) to fund person-centred care projects across the country. These projects fall in four categories: palliative and end-of-life care; patient experience and patient-reported outcome;, primary care and cancer care integration; and survivorship.

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