A new model of person-centered cancer care promises to give patients and their families access to all the support they need to tackle their illness.
LIVESTRONG Cancer Institutes, at the University of Texas’ Dell Medical School, has unveiled its new CaLM (Cancer Life reiMagined) model.
It works by giving each patient a multi-disciplinary team of experts who make treatment recommendations. They also provide access to support services such as help to navigate finances, nutritional advice and exercise classes.
Emily McLeod, palliative advanced practice provider (APP) at the clinic, says: “The CaLM model isn’t just about curing patients, it’s about human beings.
“The traditional model is I go see my radiologist on the north side of town then I go see my medical oncologist on the south side of town. People are travelling to other cities. It’s extremely taxing on them and their families, and its expensive.”
The current model of “chopped up care”, notes Dr Elizabeth Teisberg, Executive Director of Dell Medical Center’s Value Institute for Health and Care, means people need all their effort just to get their basic medical needs met.
“They don’t have the time or the emotional resources to access things that have to do with exercise or nutrition, the things that can help them to deal with cancer in their life,” she adds.
Whole person support services
CaLM is a way of ensuring patients can access to the whole-person support services they need, describes Rebekkah Schear, Associate Director of Patient Experience.
“The providers are a team and they come together and wrap around the patient. It means the patient doesn’t have to go running around all over town to get the care and support they need,” she says.
Each patient has a core team tasked with getting to know the person, their diagnosis and their goals.
This “SWAT” team includes a medical assistant, oncology nurse, assess coordinator, social worker, palliative APP and oncology APP.
“We’ve built that as the patient and family’s medical home and we then we plug in the specialists they need,” adds Dr Elizabeth Kvale, Program Leader of Survivorship and Supportive Care, LIVESTRONG Cancer Institutes.
These specialists include medical, surgical and radiation oncologists, but also psychiatrists, dietitians, genetic counselors, and financial navigators.
“What we are doing with the CaLM model is taking the very best of what we have learnt about how to support people with cancer and their families and putting it into one place,” notes Dr Kvale.
It flips the traditional model on its head, says LIVESTRONG director, Dr Gail Eckhardt.
“Instead of me, the oncologist, seeing the patient in clinic and then referring them out all over the place for social services or other things, it’s the other way around,” she says, adding that the aim is to help people “reengage with their life”.