To help patients deal with the rising costs of cancer care, the Association of Community Cancer Centers has launched a Financial Advocacy Boot Camp for healthcare providers.
Paying for cancer care is a major concern for patients, and helping them navigate financial issues is a major concern for their healthcare providers. The Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC), which represents providers who are part of multidisciplinary cancer care teams, heard from its members that they wanted more resources on financial advocacy. In response, it developed the Financial Advocacy Boot Camp.
Financial advocates can help by playing a key role in alleviating the added financial stress of a cancer diagnosis.
In 2012, recognizing the increasing costs of cancer treatment, ACCC established a Financial Advocacy Network that provides tools, workshops, and online training on financial advocacy. “The boot camp takes it one step further”—it is a more intensive online training program, said Lori Gardner, senior director of communications and marketing.
The boot camp includes 14 modules that fit into five domains: financial advocacy fundamentals, enhancing communication, improving insurance coverage, maximizing external assistance, and developing and improving financial advocacy programs and services. ACCC worked with expert oncology financial advocates to develop the materials. The boot camp is free of charge to both ACCC members and nonmembers.
The resource is designed for financial advocates, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, medical coders, administrative staff, cancer program administrators, and other healthcare professionals who work with patients on financial issues regarding their treatment. “This area is really complex and is getting more complex,” Gardner said.
As more individuals have decided on financial advocacy as a career path, oncology financial advocates have become an important part of cancer care teams, as they help patients and their families access treatment, understand costs, and deal with the related financial issues.
“A cancer diagnosis is a stressful and life-altering event. Financial advocates can help by playing a key role in alleviating the added financial stress of a cancer diagnosis,” said ACCC President Mark Soberman, MD, MBA, FACS, in a statement. “ACCC’s Financial Advocacy Boot Camp training will help these professionals keep up with the ever-changing landscape and tools to best help the patients they work with.”
ACCC covers a range of professions as well as a range of settings—including hospitals and practices—where cancer care is given, Gardner noted. “We are a ‘how-to’ organization,” she said. “We work with our members who are out there doing something successful, and we share that with other members.”
In the boot camp’s first couple of weeks, nearly 1,000 people had started the training, and 150 people had completed it. “I think it’s one of the most important things we can do for patients and their families,” Gardner said.
In a statement announcing the boot camp, ACCC pointed to two recent reports that highlight the challenges patients face regarding the rising costs of cancer care: The Costs of Cancer, from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, and the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s 2017 State of Cancer Care in America.