Author: Community Contributor
Published: August 04, 2014
New data from The Cancer Experience: A National Study of Patients and Caregivers finds that nearly one in four cancer patients and caregivers remain dissatisfied with their care experience (independent of treatment outcome). The results of this 2014 study echo the findings from the inaugural study, also commissioned by Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) and released in 2013. Findings also confirm that patients and caregivers value open communication with their care team, which is often not part of their treatment experience.
The study results suggest that health care providers can improve patient and caregiver satisfaction through maintaining open, consistent dialogue and being mindful of the ways gender and ethnicity can shape the cancer treatment experience.
Today's care experience does not meet the needs of cancer patients and caregivers.
Nearly one in four cancer patients and caregivers are still dissatisfied with their care experience overall (independent of treatment outcome).
Choosing a cancer treatment team is personal.
The top three criteria for patients and caregivers when choosing a treatment facility are timely information (91%), a care team willing to answer questions (90%) and involving patients and caregivers fully in treatment decisions (87%). However, there is a gap between the number of patients who want these things and those who experience them as part of their care.
While men and women face similar cancer journeys, they are driven by different needs.
Women are significantly more motivated by the support of family and friends to get well (56% women vs. 46% men), while men are more motivated by their desire to live a healthy life and resume daily activities (43% men vs. 36% women).
Women are also more likely than men to view components of treatment such as pain management, psychological counseling and nutritional counseling as important.
Building cultural connections will help improve the cancer patient experience.
When asked what motivates them to endure during cancer treatment, the majority of African-American patients say they are driven by their faith and spirituality (79%), the majority of Hispanic patients say they are driven by family responsibilities and support (84%) and the majority of Caucasian patients say they are driven by their desire to live a healthy life and perform daily activities (74%).
Cancer patients may get lost trying to translate common healthcare terminology, and this can negatively alter their experience with their care team.
More than one-third of cancer patient's state they don't understand or have never heard of terms that are commonplace in cancer care today. These include genomic testing, integrative cancer care, precision cancer care, survivorship program and complementary cancer care. Women are significantly more likely to understand many of these terms compared to men.
According to Scott Jones, President and CEO of CTCA at Midwestern Regional Medical Center, a connected patient experience is a critical benchmark for any healthcare organization in today's service-focused environment.
"It is our obligation as healthcare leaders to put the patient at the center of everything we do. From providing leading medical care that addresses their unique needs, to spending ample time on communication, care should be tailored to each patient," said Jones. "We hope this study sparks conversation among healthcare leaders nationwide so together we can create a more connected care experience for cancer patients and their families."
The average length of a doctor's visit is about 19 minutes, providing a short time for patients and health care providers to discuss important matters. As a hospital dedicated exclusively to cancer care, CTCA is committed to open and timely communication so patients and their families are connected to caregivers and made a part of the decision making process.
"As a current employee at CTCA, I witness firsthand the importance of personalized care and treatment with our patients," said Sally Falknor, breast cancer survivor and former CTCA patient. "There was no other place in the world I would have imagined being treated."