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

From the Director's Desk

Around the Corner: New Initiatives for 2021

Heidi Nelson, MD, FACS

Heidi Nelson, MD, FACS
Medical Director, ACS Cancer Programs

With leadership retreats nearly complete, we are starting to see the emergence of new and exciting initiatives taking shape for 2021. The good news for accredited institutions is that the initiatives are not expected to place new demands on them this calendar year. Rather, we see 2021 as a year when sites can expect to focus on adjusting to the Rapid Cancer Reporting System, virtual site visits, new operative standards, and rolling updates from the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC). Hopefully, we'll also see the return to screening, prevention, and cancer care as it was before the pandemic. As vaccination programs are taking effect, we are rounding the corner to start the recovery phase and expect that cancer care and prevention will be more accessible than during COVID-19 infection surges. 

The new initiatives are focused on enhancing integration across our Cancer Programs to increase the coordination and value of the products and services that we deliver to accredited sites. For starters, we plan to leverage the National Cancer Database as a source of cancer facts that both validates AJCC staging groupings and provides readily available prognostic information for clinical use. We also expect to coordinate the many and varied quality activities in the Cancer Programs and make them more accessible and relevant to the quality efforts of accredited sites. Lastly, we are working in partnership with other organizations to map out tangible approaches toward addressing cancer care disparities. Discussions are underway to create a new affiliate model of accreditation, which could offer new solutions for closing some of the gaps in cancer care that exist in rural America. These are works in progress, so stay tuned for more updates on the shape of our future.