Patient-Provider Relationship Role in Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing

Patient-Provider Relationship Role in Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing

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Patient-Provider Relationship Role in Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

How is lung cancer biomarker testing impacted by the patient-provider role? Experts Dr. Heather Wakelee and Dr. Leigh Boehmer discuss how specific additions to multidisciplinary teams and support resources aid in building communication for biomarker testing and optimal treatment.

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Dr. Nicole Rochester:

As we begin to think about how the patient-provider relationship and the patient-provider communication plays a role in addressing some of these barriers that we’ve been talking about and then making sure that patients are appropriately being tested and treated, I’d love to hear from you all regarding the role of the patient-provider partnership as it relates to biomarker testing. So, let’s see, I’ll start with you, Dr. Boehmer.

Dr. Leigh Boehmer:  

So I really, really think this question is critical, and I’m going to bias by saying, an exciting new position on the multidisciplinary cancer care team that we are learning about it, some of our member programs, is that of a precision medicine steward or navigator. So if you’re at all familiar with the idea of a patient navigation service or the services provided by financial advocates or financial navigators, this is really identifying that it is getting so complex in the world of targeted testing, targeted treatments today, that it literally requires in some places and settings an FTE or multiple to try to navigate testing, pathology, external labs, medical oncology, pharmacy services, nursing administration, and then, of course, patients and caregivers, and communication and context building, working with patient advocacy groups who are out there publishing great resources on testing and what they mean and targeted treatments. But trying to put all of that together, I will admit as a community clinician, as you probably see 15, 18, 20 patients a day, sometimes with as many different discrete types of cancers, it gets overwhelming.

And so, having a support person on staff who can help you manage some of that information and the patient-provider conversations, ACCC is very, very much about recognizing multidisciplinary teams of providers, so it’s critical to have navigation, to have social work providing distress screening and psychosocial support, to have pharmacists talking about targeted therapies and how they match with, to Dr. Wakelee’s points, mutations and fusions and rearrangements and everything we’re testing for with our big panels of next-generation sequencing, right? So I really want to encourage us all to utilize as patients and as team members, everybody else on the team, which is also to say patients and caregivers, are team members too, right? They have rights and responsibilities as members of their own team. And I will end with this, I say all of this, and I feel justified in saying all of this because we’ve done research at ACCC, and without that critical infrastructure, there’s potentially a real disconnect. So, for example, we asked patients with lung cancer what resources would be most impactful for you as you embark on your treatment journey, and they said things to us like psychosocial support and financial assistance.

When we asked the provider respondents a similar question in their own survey, the number one thing they identified, they thought patients needed were educational handouts or websites to go seek information about their diagnosis. Now that’s not to shake a finger at anybody or to say that you were right or you were wrong, that’s just to say, we need people who can approach this whole patient-provider construct from different perspectives, because Leigh is going to ask different questions than Heather is going to ask, than Nicole is going to ask, and that’s the beauty of multidisciplinary care coordination. We do need to come at it from different angles, different perspectives, and always make sure we’re remaining open and inclusive and asking what patients need and want right now. Because we don’t always have the answers, we have to remember that. We’re human, we have biases, it’s always better to ask and provide and then ask again.

Dr. Nicole Rochester: 

You are really speaking my language, Dr. Boehmer.


Dr. Nicole Rochester:  

And I see, Dr. Wakelee, both of us are shaking our heads the entire time that you’ve been speaking and just around this idea of multidisciplinary teams that include the patient and the family, and ideally at the center. Dr. Wakelee, do you have anything to add?

Dr. Heather Wakelee:

Hard to add. That was very impressive, Dr. Boehmer, [laughter] and highlighting that just…we talk about multidisciplinary sometimes, the first version, some people think of it’s just it’s a team of a few different types of doctors. And obviously that’s not at all what we’re talking about, this is to provide the best possible care for a patient dealing with cancer, that physician-to-patient interaction is critical, but the patient to physicians to family is critical. And then you’ve got to also think about all the psycho-social needs and whether that’s going to be with a social worker or… We have a lot of people working in oncology who are psychologists and psychiatrists particularly focused in that because the coping with the disease is such a big part of it. And it’s also the pharmacy teams and the nursing teams. It is…multidisciplinary is many, many different levels of circles, but at the core, it’s the patient and family and the primary physician, that’s kind of the way I think at it, but I’m an oncologist, so perhaps I’m a little biased in my viewpoint there.

But it’s that communication right there where you sort of have all of the information that the physician’s holding, that’s coming from all of the different treatment disciplines, and then you’ve got all the information that the patient’s holding, that’s coming from their understanding of them and all of their other aspects of their life, and that’s sort of that interaction at the core, and making sure that both sides are seeing each other and seeing all of the other layers of that, so that you could make sure that at each point the recommendations and what the patient is actually doing, everyone’s coming from a point of understanding. I think, to me, that’s the most critical piece. And you don’t have that understanding if you don’t also have all the information you need about the tumor, and you’re not making that right decision if you don’t have all the information you need about all the aspects of who that patient is as a person, and that goes into their decisions as well, and that’s to me, that’s what we’re aiming for, right?

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