American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Message from the new Commission on Cancer Chair - Daniel P. McKellar, MD, FACS

As the new Chair of the American College of Surgeons, Commission on Cancer (CoC), I want to take this opportunity to introduce myself and update you on current activities and new initiatives of the CoC. It is truly an honor for me to serve in this position.

I first became involved in the CoC in the mid 1990’s when I became the Cancer Liaison Physician (CLP) for the cancer program at the facility where I practiced. Upon my relocation to my current center in 2009, I have served as CLP as well. Over this period, I have seen the role of the CLP evolve to the current requirement for providing leadership in the monitoring and improvement of quality cancer care delivery. In 2009, I relocated to my current facility in Greenville, Ohio where I was recruited to launch a new cancer program in this rural, west central Ohio hospital. It has been quite a contrast to have practiced in a large urban hospital and now a smaller, rural hospital. Our cancer program has received its initial accreditation by the CoC and continues to grow rapidly. I have learned the challenges of providing high quality cancer care in a smaller community setting, and am very proud of how our cancer program team has identified and developed resources, implemented quality improvements, and assembled professionals to ensure our patients receive the highest quality care without having to travel long distances, as they have done in the past.

In 2003, I became a surveyor for the CoC and have visited approximately 175 cancer programs in the United States. I have learned a great deal from each of my surveys and have seen some tremendous programs providing high quality cancer care. Over the last several years, I have become involved in many workgroups and leadership positions within the CoC, most recently serving as the chair of the Accreditation Committee. I have seen the CoC greatly expand its services to cancer programs and add many new initiatives. The most significant new initiative is the 2012 patient-centered standards that will ensure the delivery of high quality, patient-centered care in all of the CoC-accredited cancer programs. In addition, the CoC has added many new resources that will assist our accredited programs in meeting the needs of their patients with cancer and help programs establish themselves as facilities dedicated to providing high quality cancer care based on evidence-based practice.

The National Cancer Data Base (NCDB) has been very active in providing new data tools to cancer programs. The most recent tool, which will help to assure that patients receive all vital components of their care, is the Rapid Quality Reporting System (RQRS). I strongly urge all CoC programs to implement RQRS. In addition to developing and releasing RQRS, the NCDB continues to work to provide valuable quality tools, new cancer quality measures, data to cancer researchers, and assistance to our cancer programs to utilize their registry data for quality improvement and administrative purposes.

The CoC is dedicated to providing educational resources to our cancer programs to assist them in meeting the new 2012 patient-centered standards. Many new webinars have been released and soon the CoC will release short video vignettes to assist cancer committees with implementation of the standards. In addition, workshops will continue in 2013 and we will also continue to compile and make available examples of best practices from our member organizations and cancer programs.

Over the last year, we have seen significant increased recognition of CoC accreditation at a national level. During my term as Chair, one of my top priorities will be to continue to “get the word out” about how vital it is for patients with cancer to choose a CoC-accredited cancer program for their care. It’s important that we also educate the government and payers regarding the value and importance of cancer patients being treated in a CoC-accredited facility; patients need to be assured that the facility will provide them all of the resources required for their care throughout the entire continuum and that they will be treated in a facility that has a well defined system for monitoring quality and adherence to evidence-based practice. In addition, the newly established CoC Advocacy Subcommittee will be responsible for educating our legislators about the needs of patients with cancer and the needs of cancer programs. This committee has already participated in national advocacy events in collaboration with other organizations and is planning a CoC advocacy event in 2013.

Change is difficult and often comes with a significant price. We, at the CoC, understand the challenges that cancer programs face in the changing environment of medicine today and that is why we work to assist cancer programs in meeting those challenges. At the CoC, we realize that if we are going to continue our important mission to improve quality of life and survival for patients with cancer and provide assistance to the growing number of accredited cancer programs, we must develop the resources needed to meet the many challenges of our programs. It was only after significant discussion and careful consideration we realized that if we are going to continue to meet our objectives and further our mission, we must raise additional funds through an increase in our fees. I assure you that this increase is absolutely essential for us to remain viable as an organization and that this additional support will go towards furthering the mission of the CoC and providing cancer programs with many new tools that will assist them in caring for their patients.

I look forward to the challenges ahead as we all work together towards our important mission. Again, it is an honor to serve as Chair of the Commission on Cancer and to serve the more than 1,500 CoC-accredited cancer programs that look to the CoC to assist them in providing their patients the highest quality, patient-centered care.

Daniel P. McKellar, MD, FACS
Chair, Commission on Cancer
Medical Director of Oncology
Wayne HealthCare
Greenville, OH