According to the American Cancer Society, some 1.6 million people are diagnosed with cancer each year, making it one of the most common diseases in the U.S. Depending on the type of cancer, the side effects of the disease and of the treatments like chemotherapy and radiation can include significant conditions on their own that need to be treated separately. This means that most cancer patients deal with multiple doctors, pharmacists, medications, therapists, and facilities to manage multiple conditions, putting patients and caregivers in a situation that can be difficult to manage.
Building a Team
Cancer is considered a chronic condition and most cancer patients can qualify for Chronic Care Management (CCM), a new service by Medicare that coordinates all of a patient’s health care providers onto a single team, with centralized information, communication, and patient monitoring. The patient’s primary doctor becomes the team leader, and all providers have access to all of a patient’s information and activity. Doctors are also reimbursed now for checking in with patients on the phone, computer, mobile device, or other technology, saving patients from visiting the office and improving overall health care. Studies have correlated calls from physicians and their staff with fewer hospital visits and better self-management.
Team members under the CCM model include physicians, pharmacists, specialty pharmacists for expensive drugs like chemotherapy medications, home nurses and caregivers, and other therapists and specialists.
Because medication management is one of the leading causes of hospitalization each year, and because chemotherapy drugs often involve complex infusion or IV systems, specialty pharmacies play an important role in patient health and well-being. With or without CCM, specialty pharmacies play a very hands-on role with cancer patients, educating them about their medication, side effects, and risk reduction strategies. They also train patients on the use of home infusion devices and monitor adherence. Including the specialty pharmacist on a CCM, the team gives a patient’s doctor access to valuable information and insight into a patient’s condition and progress.
Peace of Mind for Caregivers
For the loved ones of cancer patients, CCM gives peace of mind that the left hand indeed knows what the right hand is doing in caring for the patient and in fact are working together. CCM includes access to a 24/7 nursing phone line, two phone, computer, or other online check-ins per month, monthly assessments where the entire car plan is reviewed, medication adherence monitoring, and annual program reviews. With CCM, loved ones and caregivers know that the patient is being treated holistically and that someone is overseeing the entire care team and process
Receiving a diagnosis of cancer is never easy. Often, worst-case scenarios flood our minds and cause worry and stress. CCM promises to make cancer care easier and more effective for patients and caregivers, with coordinated care among multiple stakeholders aligned to improve treatment and recovery times.
To learn more about CCM, contact your doctor, pharmacist or specialty pharmacist. Many specialty pharmacists, including MedicoRx®, become the starting place for CCM, as they are often the first health care provider a patient sees after receiving a cancer diagnosis, and they have been at the forefront of CCM service delivery.