Tumor Boards: Uncovering Opportunities for Improvement

March 6, 2018 | Blog

Essential both for delivery of high-quality care and for cancer center accreditation, Tumor Boards began decades ago to help clinicians and specialists address the complexity of decision making involved in cancer care. Today, as complexities multiply, so do inefficiencies throughout the Tumor Board review. Clinicians seek a better way to streamline the process and save time for other patient care activities.

“In many organizations, Tumor Board meetings are part of the system of checks and balances that makes up their total quality management program,” says Dr. Linda Peitzman, Chief Medical & Informatics Officer (CMIO) at HealthMyne. “Research shows that bringing multiple disciplines together for Tumor Board meetings improves patient care.”

To help care teams maximize the value of Tumor Boards while minimizing inefficiencies, HealthMyne has developed a new report, available here for free download, offering new strategies to improve the process and reduce escalating costs. The report suggests two key areas to examine for potential improvements: the collection of comprehensive information as part of advance preparation for an efficient meeting, and presentation of the data in accessible and useful form.

Improving Preparation

In many Tumor Boards, valuable time is lost because of incomplete information, due in part to the diverse nature of the data, and the fact that it is housed across multiple EMR and imaging systems and not easily available. “We have to find a better way to accumulate all of the necessary data in a readily available format to improve patient care while also meeting our other clinical responsibilities,” says Michael Pritchett, D.O., Director of the Chest Center of the Carolinas at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital. “It is invaluable for me to get the participation of all involved specialties on a consistent basis.”

The HealthMyne report outlines ten different types of information teams should look to gather and summarize prior to an efficient Tumor Board meeting, including everything from key images to detailed diagnostic data, physical exam summaries and medical history to psycho-social information/implications, and more.

Informing Presentations

Following thorough preparation, effective tumor board meetings require that all the gathered information be shared efficiently at the meeting, either as part of the formal presentation or as data on hand to answer questions or explore other factors that arise. National organizations such as NCCN provide information, guidelines, and templates to assist with presentation methods and treatment options, and many healthcare organizations find it productive to customize their own. This report details multiple ways to improve organization of and presentation at Tumor Board in order to better manage the resources required and possibly increase the number of patients that could benefit from these efforts.

For more ideas for improving Tumor Board meetings, download the free “Tumor Boards: Essential But Difficult & Costly” report here to help your organization improve the efficiency of this critical component of the delivery of quality cancer care.