While periodic chemotherapy treatments are considered vitally important to the care and recovery of cancer patients, it’s what occurs – or does not occur – between treatments that can heavily influence the patient’s health and capacity to recover. That’s why Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (Horizon BCBSNJ) and Regional Cancer Care Associates (RCCA) have embarked on a pilot program in which oncology nurse navigators follow patients and their conditions after they leave an RCCA office visit, and intervene if patients experience interim complications.
Allen J. Karp, Senior Vice President of Healthcare Management for Horizon BCBSNJ, said the pilot program, benefiting Horizon cancer patients at RCCA’s New Jersey offices, is an important part of Horizon BCBSNJ’s Oncology strategy.
“Instead of reacting to adverse conditions that can arise between cancer treatments, such as dangerously low hemoglobin counts that trigger ER visits and hospital admissions, we’re taking a pro-active, coordinated approach to care,” Karp said. “The nurse navigators’ role will be to follow the cancer patients after their treatment, serve as a resource to address their needs and conditions, and remove any barriers to accessing the care they may need.”
Karp added that the navigators’ role also includes connecting patients to community-based services, such as transportation to and from RCCA locations, and to any other facilities and services across the continuum of their cancer care. “The same patients receiving oncology care have elevated risks for heart failure and other pulmonary diseases. So, closely monitoring, following and caring for cancer patients can go a long way toward pre-empting the onset of other dangerous health conditions,” he said.
Terrill Jordan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Regional Cancer Care Associates, stated, “We are excited to participate in this groundbreaking pilot here in New Jersey. This program exemplifies RCCA’s comprehensive approach to caring for our patients. It’s an extension of our oncology medical home, where we ensure high quality ‘total care’ for you and your families.” Jordan added, “By working more collaboratively with Horizon, we are empowering our physicians and their clinical staff to follow the progress of our patients beyond the four walls of our local clinics. It allows us to coordinate your care with your other healthcare providers and community support.”
The pilot will reach approximately 2,000 Horizon patients who receive oncology care at one of RCCA’s 24 New Jersey locations. If successful, the pilot will be expanded to other oncology practices and serving Horizon BCBSNJ members.Related Articles: