Coordination of Care Leads to Quality Outcomes for Patients With Cancer

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Lake Oconee Nurses

From the moment of diagnosis, patients with cancer face a frightening and unfamiliar journey. They often feel helpless and alone. The special needs of patients with cancer are as varied as the patients themselves. Oncology nurses help patients through this difficult and frightening time.

Coordination of care by a nurse is a key theme in healthcare reform and is essential to the Oncology Nursing Society’s (ONS) mission of providing excellence in oncology nursing and quality cancer care.

The American Nurses Association (ANA) defines care coordination as (a) a function that helps ensure that the patient’s needs and preferences are met over time with respect to health services and information sharing across people, functions, and sites; and (b) the deliberate organization of patient care activities between two or more participants (including the patient) involved in a patient’s care to facilitate the appropriate delivery of healthcare services.

Oncology nurses, through interaction with other disciplines, coordinate care in the oncology population by encouraging cancer screening and helping patients through diagnosis, treatment, follow up care, and survivorship. Nurses prepare patients and their families and caregivers with strategies to manage the symptoms related to their disease and treatment. They develop and provide an effective plan of care  as well as associated patient education and instructions specific to their disease and treatment. It has been shown that this type of focused patient education at the outset of cancer treatment affects self-care, adherence to treatment, and ultimately patient outcomes.

Oncology nurses also coordinate appointments between different oncology specialties, lead the transition to survivorship care at the completion of treatment, and prepare patients to move into the primary care setting once active therapy is completed. Coordination of psychosocial support and psychosocial distress screening for the patient, family, and caregivers is also a critical component of the nurse’s role in providing the best possible care.

Patients with cancer spend more time with their oncology nurses than any other healthcare professional throughout the continuum of their care. Nurses take the time to listen and answer their patients’ questions, interpret complicated information, and help them navigate the healthcare system. Once active treatment is complete, patients return for follow-up care and for the information they need to transition to life as a survivor. This is especially important, as many cancer survivors cope with late effects of treatment, as well as psychological concerns such as fear of recurrence. Survivors and their families and caregivers must be able to rely on their cancer care team to provide them with the information and support they need to make decisions that affect their quality of life.

ONS is dedicated to being the leading resource for best practices in oncology nursing because we are committed to patients with cancer and the oncology nurses who guide them along the cancer journey and into survivorship.

Year after year, nurses are recognized in Gallup surveys as some of the most-trusted professionals. Their dedication to caring for their patients is second to none.

In honor of Oncology Nursing Month and National Nurses Week, ONS salutes these dedicated, compassionate, and caring professionals for the work they do every day.

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