Improving delivery of care to patients: The breast cancer continuum

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Convenient and efficient; relevant and enriching; patient care; and safety focused. These were the desired parameters in team building and developing an educational forum that would cross the continuum of breast cancer care.

Developing a continuum requires several factors be taken into consideration: that patients with breast cancer interact, enter, and/or exit the health care system in myriad ways from diverse departments or units; that health care personnel caring for these patients can be located physically as close as the next examination clinic in the same building to as far as sites across a city; and that patients interact with personnel who have a diverse set of knowledge, skills, and abilities, said Amy Rettig, MSN, MALM, RN, ACNS-BC, CBCN®, of the JamesCare Comprehensive Breast Center, Ohio State University Cancer Program, Columbus, Ohio.

The breast cancer continuum was initiated by breast cancer clinical nurse specialists, who facilitated a five-week focus group formed to determine the best method for providing a team-building and educational forum. The group then developed a guideline to assist health care personnel in the continuum interested in sharing their expertise. Included in the guideline were steps to follow; helpful hints for a 30-minute presentation; facilitator expectations; topic development worksheet; and a checklist.

Response to the breast cancer continuum has been very positive, Rettig said at the Oncology Nursing Society 36th Annual Congress. To address the challenge of bringing a team together, especially when different schedules and locations are involved, audioconferencing and a SharePoint site have offered viable alternatives to meeting in person. Each week, the health system receives a new audio conference; in addition, a Web site provides a central location for a calendar of events, a repository for documents and podcasts, and an added forum for further discussions about each weekly topic. Weekly attendance for the educational offerings has ranged from 6 to 15 in person and 4 to 8 groups via audio conferences.

Feedback from team members across the continuum has been very positive, Rettig reported. One noted, “I do believe these discussions will improve how we deliver care to our patients.” Future opportunities include Web casts and patient involvement.

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