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UNC Lineberger member Deborah K. Mayer, PhD, RN, AOCN, FAAN, was awarded $50,000 in funding through the UNC School of Medicine’s Institute for Healthcare Quality Improvement seed grant program for her proposal “Implementing Survivorship Care Plans.”

According to Dr. Mayer, survivorship care plans (SCP) are created and implemented by oncology providers to document cancer treatments received and to create follow-up plans for survivors. The Institute of Medicine has recommended that SCPs include four components: prevention of recurrent and new cancers; surveillance for cancer spread, recurrence, or second cancers as well as monitoring medical and psychosocial effects; interventions for the consequences of cancer and its treatment; and coordination between specialists and primary care providers to ensure that all of the survivor’s health needs are met.

SCPs are not routinely used in cancer programs, including the North Carolina Cancer Hospital (NCCH). Some barriers to implementing these plans include: time restraints, the number of providers and cancer patients, and lack of support systems to consistly implement them as an integral part of quality cancer care. The American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer will require SCPs beginning in 2015 for cancer program accreditation.

“We are very excited about this opportunity to enhance the quality of cancer care,” she said. “We will use an interdisciplinary team to use a Lean-Six Sigma approach to systematically implement cancer survivorship care plans with the different tumor groups within Epic, UNC’s new electronic health record system, for new adult oncology patients who are receiving treatment at the NCCH over the next year.” A Lean-Six Sigma approach focuses on improving performance by making the SCP process as effective as possible. The School of Medicine’s Institute for Health Care Quality Improvement is providing the pilot funding as well as core resources, training and support in Lean Six Sigma for study participants

Other investigators contributing to the research effort include Marianne Jackson, MD, MPH, UNC Hospitals; Elizabeth Sherwood, RN, MS, ANP-C, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center; Amy Coghill, RN, MSN, OCN, UNC Health Care; Adrian Gerstel, Program Manager, UNC School of Nursing; Kinley Taylor, M.S.I.E. UNC School of Medicine; David Ollila, MD, UNC School of Medicine; and Sarah Birken, PhD, MSPH, Gillings School of Public Health.