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New services, technology improve cancer patient experience
MultiCare Regional Cancer Center has been recognized by the Association of Community Cancer Centers with the 2011 Innovation Award for improving the patient experience.
The Association of Community Cancer Centers Innovation Award honors programs that exhibit forward–thinking strategic planning and develop pioneering programs and tools.
To win this honor, the MultiCare Regional Cancer Center brought cancer care to communities in the South Sound, expanding from 25 treatment chairs at two locations to 90 chairs at five locations; added technology that makes treatment and office visits more relaxing; and developed a partnership with the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.
“We have worked hard to bring the best experience to our patients during their cancer treatment. This award honors our commitment to creating a relaxing, supportive environment that also gives patients and their families the best treatment options close to home,” said David Nicewonger, Administrator of the MultiCare Regional Cancer Center.
MultiCare provides cancer services in Tacoma, Gig Harbor, Puyallup, Covington and Auburn. During the last three years, the Tacoma-based health care system worked to provide a caring and healing environment for patients seeking cancer treatment and services. The Innovation Award recognized that work, which includes:
Improving the patient experience:
- An audio-visual system located at each chemotherapy chair gives the patient access to television, radio, movies, electronic books, games and full Internet capabilities. Patients also have access to their medical record and can browse educational materials.
- All examination and counseling rooms are equipped with wall mounted 42-inch monitors. These monitors show digital art. But on demand from the care provider, monitors can mirror information pulled from the room’s computer workstation. Digital images of MRI, PET, CT, or other images can be displayed in large view. The screens also are used to show educational information the provider may want to share with the patient and family.
- Teleconference links to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and community locations provide access for patients to educational conferences and to the expertise of multi-disciplinary specialists.
- Two 55-inch televisions sitting side-by-side in the waiting room replace the traditional aquarium. They show continuous high-definition video of nature scenes from around the world – an answer to patient requests to remove the traditional aquarium.
- The MultiCare Regional Cancer Center provides services at five medical oncology sites instead of a more common central location. This model provides easier access to a larger geographic community and minimizes driving time for patients. All sites are linked by a common electronic health record and uniform policies and practices. This model allowed the expansion from 25 chemotherapy chairs in two locations to 90 chairs in five locations; doubled the number of patients served; increasing access to social workers, navigators, nutritionists and financial support.
- Patients can get radiation oncology services at multiple locations using identical linear accelerators with matching beams. All treatment planning is done at a central location using a core team. Plans are then distributed to the peripheral site for delivery of care. This provides oncology services closer to patients’ homes.
Affiliation with Regional Academic/Research Institution:
Through an affiliation relationship with the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, MultiCare Regional Cancer Center is able to raise the bar of care for patients in their local communities. Clinical trial opportunities are expanded to each of the MultiCare facilities and made available to patients without patients leaving the area, and patients can consult with high-end specialists but still be treated near home.
MultiCare will receive the Innovation Award in October at the Association of Community Cancer Center's (ACCC) 28th National Oncology Conference where the Association will present its first annual ACCC Innovator Awards.
New Cancer Center: The MultiCare Regional Cancer Center at Tacoma General moved to a new location in the spring of 2010. The new Center combines modern touches such as hardwood floors, granite countertops and big-screen televisions with state-of-the-art technology and trained health care providers in an intimate setting with beautiful views of Tacoma. The 35,000-square-foot center is nearly three times the size of the previous Cancer Center at Tacoma General. But it presents the warm, comfortable feel of a smaller space. The center has six treatment suites with six chairs in each, allowing for personal attention and an opportunity to build community with other patients.
New services include complementary care services such as massage, yoga, rehabilitation services, gentle exercise and art therapy. Providing all the needed treatment options and support services in one location means patients won’t have to travel around the Puget Sound area to get what they need. All of their care components can be coordinated across the entire care team. In December, the MultiCare Regional Cancer Center in Tacoma opened its new CyberKnife center. The CyberKnife is a high tech radiosurgery system to treat tumors anywhere in the body, including the brain, spine, lung, liver, pancreas and prostate. For some patients it’s the best option for treating cancer.