Dr. Robert A. Dichmann

Have you ever wondered why some cancer centers are accredited and other not? And, what is the difference if both provide medical oncologists and comprehensive care? Well, the truth of the matter is there are several distinctions that set the centers apart, but without knowing the process involved it just sounds like a lot of jargon.

The American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer (CoC) accreditation is the Hallmark of Excellence and awarded to cancer care programs that have made a commitment to providing high quality, comprehensive, multidisciplinary patient-centered care as demonstrated through compliance with the CoC Accreditation Standards. This year Marian Regional Medical Center (MRMC) was honored with the Outstanding Achievement Award in addition to the three-year accreditation. This Outstanding Achievement Award is offered only to programs which represent the ‘best of the best’ in cancer care. The award criteria is based on the cancer program receiving commendation ratings for the seven commendation level standards and no deficiencies for the remaining 27 qualitative and quantitative standards. In 2016 and 2017, only three hospitals in California received this award.

The CoC accreditation process challenges cancer programs to enhance the care they provide by addressing patient-focused needs and measuring the quality of the care they deliver against national standards. Programs seeking accreditation must fulfill the 12 eligibility requirements in structure and cancer program services, while demonstrating compliance in 34 standards covering five areas: data quality, clinical services, continuum of care, patient outcomes, and program management. Following submission of a completed application, the CoC conducts a survey to validate performance and ensure compliance, through staff interviews and physical data monitoring.

Each new accreditation cycle the CoC refines program reviews to reflect national needs, with regards to cancer care and prevention. MRMC was praised in the most recent survey for the development and impact of the Mission Hope colorectal community outreach program. After 2015 data from the National Cancer Database, revealed a high rate of late stage colorectal cancer in our service area and identified clear barriers to care, MRMC’s physicians and Mission Hope teamed up to create an effective outreach program that addressed barriers to care and engaged community partners. The program resulted in a significant drop in the percentage of Stage III colorectal cancer diagnoses and an increase in detecting Stage I and Stage II cases – remember early detection can save lives! Additionally, the accreditation body was highly impressed with our community calendar as both an outreach tool and public reporting outcome; it was considered a best practice for cancer prevention and something the CoC wanted replicated in other cancer centers.

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The CoC accreditation provides value through improved patient outcomes across all domains of care: access and service, satisfaction and well-being, quality of care and cancer outcomes. The cancer program at Mission Hope is honored to be a recipient of the Outstanding Achievement Award from the CoC and will continue to provide the utmost in quality care through the full continuum of services from prevention and early detection, through treatment, support and follow-up.

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Dr. Robert Dichmann serves as Medical Director of Marian Cancer Care and chairs the Cancer Committee. He can be reached at 805-349-9393.

HAVE A QUESTION? This weekly column produced by Marian Regional Medical Center, Cancer Program invites you to submit your questions to “Your Cancer Answers” at the following email address: mariancancercare@dignityhealth.org