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About Community Oncology
A community oncology practice is a private physician owned business not owned by a hospital, academic or medical teaching institution. The practice may have only one oncologist on staff or may employ more than 100 oncologists. A community oncology practice can be located in a rural location or a large city. Community oncology practices may have one location or in some states such as Florida, over 90 locations. Access to the most current treatment protocols, clinical trials, and comprehensive care is available in the community oncology setting.
In a community oncology practice, the mission is clear:
- Deliver up-to-date, safe, and effective cancer care in a community-based setting
- Provide value to patients and payers (insurance companies, Medicare or an individual)
- Provide excellent quality of care
The mission of patient care drives the operational details of a community oncology practice. Most community oncologists care for patients with a variety of cancers. Most also manage any side effects that come with cancer treatment and often function as the patient’s primary care physician, as an Oncology Medical Home, while the patient is in active treatment. Once active treatment has been completed, community oncologists will monitor patients in remission, often for the remainder of their lives.
The Community Oncology Alliance Patient Advocacy Network (CPAN) is a national advocacy organization committed to raising awareness of independent, community cancer care and the issues that affect it. A community oncology practice is a private, physician-owned cancer clinic that is not part of a hospital, academic center, or medical teaching institution. CPAN advocates — including patients, survivors, caregivers, nurses, pharmacists, oncologists, and more — share their personal stories and advocacy power so elected officials understand the importance of local, affordable, and accessible cancer care close to where they live and work.
CPAN was created in recognition of the vital role patients play in advocating for access to local, affordable cancer care. The network educates the community about policy issues affecting the quality and accessibility of cancer care at the local level. It also serves as a non-cancer type specific organization for individuals to learn how to become advocates for cancer care and provides community oncology practices with education regarding the economic and administrative pressures facing clinic operations.
CPAN chapters are based within local cancer centers where they educate, engage, and activate advocates around key national cancer care issues. The dedicated CPAN advocates empower the work of the Community Oncology Alliance and allow it to have an unprecedented record of advocacy success. Of great concern is the volume of community cancer clinics that have closed across the United States in recent years, and the bureaucratic burdens that overrule physician expertise and delay access to critical treatments. These create challenges for patients in active treatment, as well as survivors receiving long-term care. CPAN advocates regularly share their experiences with policymakers on Capitol Hill, in their local cancer centers, and through the media.
How can you get involved?
Your story is the most powerful advocacy tool for community oncology. No matter your desired level of commitment — advocate, chapter leader, policymaker liaison, storyteller, on-the-ground support and more — CPAN has a role for you. CPAN is actively recruiting motivated cancer care advocates. Advocates will join a community working together to positively influence cancer care policy across the country. Membership is free and everyone is welcome. Contact Abra Kelson at firstname.lastname@example.org or, (253) 200-3164, for more information about NWMS’ Patient Advocacy Group.