Providing optimal oncology care becomes increasingly challenging when care delivery occurs in several locations throughout the campus of a large community hospital. A team of nurses at Torrance Memorial Medical Center in California identified developed a collaborative approach aimed at improving the cancer patient experience at their community hospital. The nurses presented a poster illustrating the impact of their program at the NCONN Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

Optimal cancer care is frequently multimodal; its complexity necessitates seamless interdepartmental coordination and a bidirectional information exchange along with regular communication among providers. In 2001 the Institute of Medicine recommended creating care delivery systems that are safe, effective, patient-centered, and efficient across all settings.

“In our facility, patient feedback demonstrated that fragmented care was occurring across settings,” explained the presentation by Miriam Sleven, RN, MS, OCN, and colleagues. Care was hindered by inconsistent interdepartmental communication and weak collaboration among providers. This analysis uncovered a need to optimize care delivery, and offered an opportunity for the nurses to improve patients’ oncology care experiences.

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To meet this challenge, clinical and administrative nurses representing inpatient oncology, outpatient infusion, palliative care, radiation oncology, the Breast Diagnostic Center, and the Cancer Resource Center met monthly to plan, implement, and evaluate projects focused on improving cancer services throughout the care continuum. Ad hoc members were included as needed. Strategies used to develop an effective collaborative group included professional education, team development, and consistent interdepartmental communication.

Consistent attendance at meetings fostered an ongoing, focused problem-solving approach. Identified issues and projects spanned the scope of oncology nursing practice, the patient experience, nursing-practice projects focused on improved safety and patient education, and interdisciplinary projects involving navigation, survivorship, rehabilitation, and palliative care. Public and professional education across settings was also demonstrated in a successful community-based consortium.

The collaboration has successfully encouraged communication between all oncology nurses, and has had a positive impact on the patient experience. The Torrance team’s strategies are reproducible and renewable over time. The shared intention to improve cancer patients’ experiences has led to safer, more efficient, patient-centered care.


Presenter: Miriam Sleven, RN, MS, OCN; Mary Hersh, PhD, RN, FPCN, CHPN; and Charlene Cotrell, RN, Torrance Memorial Medical Center, Torrance, CA.