Online program trains oncology providers to help patients navigate financial challenges

Mark S. Soberman

The Association of Community Cancer Centers launched a free online training program for oncology professionals who help patients with cancer navigate financial issues related to their treatments.

The association developed the Financial Advocacy Boot Camp in response to the evolving and increasingly complex health care coverage landscape, as well as the need for information, resources and training for oncology financial advocates to better navigate this landscape for patients.

“A cancer diagnosis is a stressful and life-altering event,” association President Mark S. Soberman, MD, MBA, FACS, medical director for the oncology service line and chief physician executive for Monocacy Health Partners at Frederick Regional Health System, said in a press release. “Financial advocates can help by playing a key role in alleviating the added financial stress of a cancer diagnosis. [The association’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.”

HemOnc Today spoke with Soberman about the need for this type of training, its potential benefits and how providers can access it.

Question: Can you describe the need for this type of training?

Answer: The challenges patients face when dealing with the rising cost of care are highlighted in ASCO’s State of Cancer Care in America: 2017 report. The report notes that “even among patients with health insurance, a cancer diagnosis can be financially catastrophic.” Financial advocates have become vital members of the cancer care team. They play a critical role helping patients access treatment, understand the costs of care and work to reduce the potential for financial toxicity as a side effect of cancer. Due to the evolving and increasingly complex health care coverage landscape, financial advocates have an ongoing need for training, information and resources.

Q: Who is the program designed for?

A: The Financial Advocacy Boot Camp is designed for a range of cancer team professionals. These include financial advocates, nurses, nurse and patient navigators, social workers, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, medical coders, administrative staff, cancer program administrators and other health care providers involved in financial advocacy for patients with cancer.

Q: What information does the program provide?

A: The program offers financial advocacy fundamentals, ways to enhance communication, suggestions for improving insurance coverage, ideas for maximizing external assistance, and ways to develop and improve financial advocacy programs and services. The program provides an understanding of how cancer programs deliver financial advocacy services and familiarizes advocates with key health insurance disability programs, insurance terms and general guidance to help patients with cancer navigate the health insurance process. The program helps financial advocates improve their social skills to engage patients in conversations about financial responsibility and financial toxicity by assessing and monitoring their patients’ health literacy. Moreover, the program aims to enhance financial advocates’ abilities to mitigate out-of-pocket expenses for patients through use of patient assistance programs. It allows for the evaluation of cancer programs’ financial advocacy services and development of plans for continuous quality improvement. Advocates are shown how to use motivational interviewing with patients to help prevent financial problems from driving treatment discontinuation and develop key reports to share with administrators involved with revenue cycle management.

Q: How many people will the program serve?

A: The program attracted 1,200 participants in its first couple of months. We anticipate that thousands can ultimately benefit, as there is an ongoing need for this type of information.

Q: Where can the training program be found?

A: The Financial Advocacy Boot Camp can be accessed online at accc-cancer.org/resources/FinancialAdvocacy-bootCamp.asp.

Q: How long does it take to complete the program?

A: The program is divided into 14 modules, which participants can complete at their own pace. Once all 14 modules are completed, participants earn a certificate of completion and will be acknowledged on the association’s Financial Advocacy Network webpage.

Q: Is there anything else that you would like to mention?

A: A number of studies have explored the challenges patients and providers face when it comes to discussing the cost of cancer care. Many cancer programs are benefiting their patients, their providers and their programs by adding a financial advocate to the team. Our association’s Financial Advocacy Boot Camp is a much-needed resource for these newest team members in this rapidly changing health care environment. Using the tools, resources and training offered, financial advocates can demonstrate to cancer program administrators the benefit of these positions from both cost-saving and revenue-increasing perspectives. The yield often can positively affect cancer programs’ bottom lines. When the right staffing and training occur, recouping the costs of hiring financial advocates generally can be seen within the first 2 months. – by Jennifer Southall

For more information:

Mark S. Soberman, MD, MBA, FACS, can be reached at Association of Community Cancer Centers, 1801 Research Blvd., Suite 400, Rockville, MD 20850.

Disclosure: Soberman reports no relevant financial disclosures.

Mark S. Soberman

The Association of Community Cancer Centers launched a free online training program for oncology professionals who help patients with cancer navigate financial issues related to their treatments.

The association developed the Financial Advocacy Boot Camp in response to the evolving and increasingly complex health care coverage landscape, as well as the need for information, resources and training for oncology financial advocates to better navigate this landscape for patients.

“A cancer diagnosis is a stressful and life-altering event,” association President Mark S. Soberman, MD, MBA, FACS, medical director for the oncology service line and chief physician executive for Monocacy Health Partners at Frederick Regional Health System, said in a press release. “Financial advocates can help by playing a key role in alleviating the added financial stress of a cancer diagnosis. [The association’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.”

HemOnc Today spoke with Soberman about the need for this type of training, its potential benefits and how providers can access it.

Question: Can you describe the need for this type of training?

Answer: The challenges patients face when dealing with the rising cost of care are highlighted in ASCO’s State of Cancer Care in America: 2017 report. The report notes that “even among patients with health insurance, a cancer diagnosis can be financially catastrophic.” Financial advocates have become vital members of the cancer care team. They play a critical role helping patients access treatment, understand the costs of care and work to reduce the potential for financial toxicity as a side effect of cancer. Due to the evolving and increasingly complex health care coverage landscape, financial advocates have an ongoing need for training, information and resources.

Q: Who is the program designed for?

A: The Financial Advocacy Boot Camp is designed for a range of cancer team professionals. These include financial advocates, nurses, nurse and patient navigators, social workers, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, medical coders, administrative staff, cancer program administrators and other health care providers involved in financial advocacy for patients with cancer.

Q: What information does the program provide?

A: The program offers financial advocacy fundamentals, ways to enhance communication, suggestions for improving insurance coverage, ideas for maximizing external assistance, and ways to develop and improve financial advocacy programs and services. The program provides an understanding of how cancer programs deliver financial advocacy services and familiarizes advocates with key health insurance disability programs, insurance terms and general guidance to help patients with cancer navigate the health insurance process. The program helps financial advocates improve their social skills to engage patients in conversations about financial responsibility and financial toxicity by assessing and monitoring their patients’ health literacy. Moreover, the program aims to enhance financial advocates’ abilities to mitigate out-of-pocket expenses for patients through use of patient assistance programs. It allows for the evaluation of cancer programs’ financial advocacy services and development of plans for continuous quality improvement. Advocates are shown how to use motivational interviewing with patients to help prevent financial problems from driving treatment discontinuation and develop key reports to share with administrators involved with revenue cycle management.

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Q: How many people will the program serve?

A: The program attracted 1,200 participants in its first couple of months. We anticipate that thousands can ultimately benefit, as there is an ongoing need for this type of information.

Q: Where can the training program be found?

A: The Financial Advocacy Boot Camp can be accessed online at accc-cancer.org/resources/FinancialAdvocacy-bootCamp.asp.

Q: How long does it take to complete the program?

A: The program is divided into 14 modules, which participants can complete at their own pace. Once all 14 modules are completed, participants earn a certificate of completion and will be acknowledged on the association’s Financial Advocacy Network webpage.

Q: Is there anything else that you would like to mention?

A: A number of studies have explored the challenges patients and providers face when it comes to discussing the cost of cancer care. Many cancer programs are benefiting their patients, their providers and their programs by adding a financial advocate to the team. Our association’s Financial Advocacy Boot Camp is a much-needed resource for these newest team members in this rapidly changing health care environment. Using the tools, resources and training offered, financial advocates can demonstrate to cancer program administrators the benefit of these positions from both cost-saving and revenue-increasing perspectives. The yield often can positively affect cancer programs’ bottom lines. When the right staffing and training occur, recouping the costs of hiring financial advocates generally can be seen within the first 2 months. – by Jennifer Southall

For more information:

Mark S. Soberman, MD, MBA, FACS, can be reached at Association of Community Cancer Centers, 1801 Research Blvd., Suite 400, Rockville, MD 20850.

Disclosure: Soberman reports no relevant financial disclosures.