The Commission on Cancer (CoC) annual plenary meeting was held virtually this year. AONN+ is one of 57 member organizations within the CoC, and I serve as a representative for our organization. The CoC currently accredits 1500 out of the 6100 cancer centers nationally, and their hope is to market to those who are not currently accredited. Check to see if your facility is accredited.
Dr Larry Shulman, the current president of the Commission, stated, “The CoC remains less prominent than it should be, however, when it comes to quality of care, no group has the impact the CoC does. The CoC has paid attention to survivorship care, promoting this to other organizations as well. The CoC has also done more to advance palliative care, too.”
The annual meeting provided the following updates:
- The Commission on Cancer did a major overhaul of its National Cancer Database (NCDB), expanding it to be used by accredited institutions for research abilities. Accredited facilities have also been using this database to negotiate payments with insurance companies and other insurance contracts.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the ability to do live surveys, the surveys due in spring 2020 were delayed until a virtual process was put into place. For those institutions who were due to be surveyed in 2020 and were not, it is the CoC’s goal to complete these by June 2021. Additionally, due to this delay, all upcoming institutions due for accreditation have been moved by 1 year, making it a 4-year cycle, until they can resume the 3-year cycle. Hospitals won’t be reprimanded if their committees that are required by some specific standards have not met for a period of time. It is the hope that these committees (like the central cancer committee) will be restarted as virtual committee meetings.
- Standard 4.2, the Nursing Credentials standard, now includes the AONN+ Foundations for Learning, Inc certification program for oncology nurse navigators. It was deemed a requirement that only accredited certification programs can be listed as approved for inclusion in this standard.
- Standard 4.8, the Survivorship standard, no longer requires a survivorship care plan be given to patients upon completion of their acute treatment. Developing and implementing survivorship programs is the new directive. There is a requirement to conduct 3 survivorship initiatives annually, of which the institution can decide if they want to have survivorship care plans be 1 of the 3. Educational programs are important for patients after completion of acute treatment, and can consider holding annual survivorship seminars for specific types of cancer survivors or generally for all cancer survivors. An example could be management of lingering side effects, education about potential late effects, creating your “new normal”, nutrition classes, or coping with fear of recurrence.
- The CoC has created new standards specifically designed to measure compliance with the appropriate content of operative reports. These new standards are in Standards group 5.3-5.8 and go into effect in January 2021. The specifics of these standards focus on contents of operative reports, pathology reports, and synoptic operative reports for lung cancer and rectal cancer.
- There has been an expressed need for cancer centers to have financial support for oncology nurse educators and oncology nurse navigators.
- The Tumor Registry was part of the overhaul of the reporting database, with the new expectation that more data abstraction be done concurrently. The CoC has developed a new way to report data and measure accuracy. The new dashboard is named the Rapid Cancer Reporting System (RCRS).
- Standard 7.3, the Quality Improvement Initiative standard, requires all institutions to conduct an improvement in some aspect of cancer care annually. The problem, a method for addressing the problem, and the metrics that will be used to measure baseline and measure after improvements have been accomplished, along with summary, should be provided. The hospital will have 2 years to conduct the PI project; however, there needs to be a new PI initiative launched annually. If you’re involved with a PI initiative, this would be a great poster presentation of a JONS article.
- Standard 8.2 requires that there be at least one cancer prevention event each year.
- Standard 8.3 requires that there be at least 1 strong push for cancer screening annually.
- Tumor Registrars discussed the difficulty they are having performing concurrent data abstraction.
- There was a discussion about diagnosis and treatment delays due to COVID-19 and the concern that there are a large number of individuals not yet diagnosed since screenings were placed on hold at virtually all cancer facilities.
- There are plans to create a dedicated standard for oncology nurse and patient navigators. Barriers to care, education, screening and prevention are already covered within the standards. Physician surveyors have been reporting that institutions don’t seem to have dedicated professional staff for performing navigation functions and there is a strong interest in having this be the case. This would help with accountability and the ability to measure the involvement of the navigator within the multidisciplinary team. I will be part of the development team for this standard that will be created in 2021.
Keep up with the dynamic standards for oncology nurse and patient navigators by becoming an AONN+ member today! By becoming a member, you will receive access to a knowledge-sharing oncology navigator network, innovative conferences and webinars, and evolving resources and tools to help you in your navigator journey.