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

From the Director's Desk

Quality: Every Contribution Counts

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

When we think of major clinical cancer advances, we tend to focus our attention on new therapies, such as break-through immunotherapy, gene therapy, or robotic, minimally invasive surgery. Naturally, we see hope in these therapies; hope for better outcomes, less toxicity, and a brighter, healthier future. Perhaps we also gravitate to these new treatments because they represent some kind of triumphant win in a battle or skirmish in the 50-year national war on cancer. A sense of pride or wonderment comes from these new discoveries. Probably, they remind us that we can land on the moon and travel to Mars if we just put ourselves up the to the task.

While we generally do not see the same level of attention, enthusiasm, and triumph ascribed to cancer care gains made through quality improvement, deep down we all know that quality efforts can also be lifesaving. Perhaps for that reason, it was so heartening to see such excellent attendance and enthusiastic engagement at the recent 2020 American College of Surgeons (ACS) Quality and Safety Conference. The cancer quality sessions were simply outstanding. When you take time to shine a light on the community of providers who are dedicated to improving the care of the patient with cancer through teamwork, programs and services that support their patients, and the elimination of barriers to care, it is impressive and satisfying. It reminds us that people matter most and that everyone can play a role in making cancer outcomes better and in making the cancer experience simpler and safer for the patient.

If you need a small dose of inspiration, take a look at the recorded Quality and Safety Conference cancer sessions available online, and see what your colleagues are doing to improve the journey of the patient with cancer. Maybe you will discover your own contribution to making a difference in quality of cancer care.