Team-based Cancer Care Explored in Special Series of Journal of Oncology Practice

November 10, 2016

The Journal of Oncology Practice (JOP) has published in its November issue, a special series that represents the results of a unique project launched in 2014 by ASCO and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to heighten awareness of ways to enhance team-based care in oncology. Concerns about clinician burnout, coordination of care, and the dramatic changes underway in oncology care delivery and reimbursement caused ASCO to prioritize this partnership with NCI to explore application of the evidence on highly-functioning clinical teams to oncology care.

The NCI-ASCO Teams in Cancer Care Initiative involved writing teams of clinicians, researchers, and patient advocates who developed 19 manuscripts that explore specific cancer care case studies (either fictional cases or an amalgamation of multiple care experiences), illustrate models of team-based care, and highlight the added value of high-performing teams in effectively delivering care. The cases span a range of cancer care scenarios, varying in type of cancer, care setting, stage of treatment, and patient characteristics.

The NCI-ASCO collaboration recognizes that clinical teams are defined by “two or more people who interact dynamically, interdependently, and adaptively to achieve a common goal shared within the context of some larger group or organization.”[1] The series builds on a growing body of evidence that has emerged in recent years suggesting team-based care may be an effective mechanism to overcome current healthcare challenges and improve healthcare delivery for patients overall.

As illustrated in the series, the application of team-based care in oncology presents unique and complex challenges to achieve effective multidisciplinary team care. A cancer patient often receives care from not just a single team, but a “team of teams” that all work together to provide the full range of care to a patient. These specialized teams may be responsible for one or more facets or stages of care, and each may have their own team-level objectives, communications channels, and cultures. High-quality, multidisciplinary team care requires teams to effectively coordinate and share specialized knowledge about the patient and their care role with the other teams involved in the patient’s care. This series discusses a number of tactics and mechanisms that could be implemented in various scenarios to improve communication, align goals, foster cross-team trust, and enhance specialized knowledge sharing to ultimately deliver more effective multidisciplinary team-based cancer care.

Additionally, the series explores the roles of the patient and caregivers in their own care team. Each writing team included a patient or caregiver, and selected patient advocates who participated in the NCI-ASCO Teams in Cancer Care Initiative authored an accompanying editorial discussing their role in the project and the creation of the team-based care scenarios. The patient advocates identified ways to make patient-centric team care models, and proposed areas that should be addressed in future research to better understand the role patients and their families play in their care team and how they can most effectively help enhance their own team care. 

Access the full JOP issue to learn more about the NCI-ASCO Teams in Cancer Care Initiative and the application of team-based care in oncology and cancer research.

[1] DOI: 10.1200/JOP.2016.018127 Journal of Oncology Practice - published online before print October 24, 2016