This is the first edition of HemOnc Today with the two of us at the helm as chief medical editors, and we wish to signal the event by providing a joint editorial that indicates some of our future plans and emphases.
First, we wish to thank two icons of hematology and oncology, Harry Jacob and Joe Bertino, for their outstanding vision and leadership as medical editors and for steering this publication so successfully for more than a decade.
They have set a high bar, have shown how a broadsheet can be both informative and influential, and have focused carefully on high-level content and discussion of important clinical, scientific and translational issues.
We hope to continue this standard, but we also will expand into new areas.
Health care is in the midst of a cauldron — particularly the domain of cancer treatment and research, and related issues. Health care costs are increasing dramatically. As the population ages and the number of patients with cancer rises, we face a shortage of hematologists and oncologists in the next few years.
Fortunately, there are increasing numbers of cancer survivors, but this adds further strain on the cancer care system. At the same time, there appears to be less funding for research and innovation.
Although politicians on both sides of the political spectrum (and in between) have expressed interest in health care issues — particularly the reduction of costs, as well as the provision of insurance safety nets — we are struck by the level of ineptness in planning and the apparent lack of knowledge of real issues.
While tinkering with the system, and occasionally making bold strokes, we have noticed the lack of interest in addressing a key driver of health care costs — specifically tort reform and a focus on profligate medical litigation, as well as a rational approach to increasing value and addressing price and cost discrepancies.
Because this is an important election year — the outcomes of which are likely to influence the balance of power in federal and state legislatures substantially — we believe it is time for our profession to take a more active stance with regard to addressing costs and value, as well as helping our patients and the community to set a higher bar for our political leaders.
As health care costs and related issues are rapidly becoming one of the leading issues in our society, we believe it is time for us to know the positions of our politicians on these issues prior to considering support with our votes.
Accordingly, we have produced a list of 12 important questions we should pose to our politicians when they present themselves for election or re-election (see box). Our plan is to send these questions by mail, within the next couple of months, to each of the political candidates in our geographical areas. We encourage you to cut out the form on this page and do the same. This exercise will allow us to learn their views prior to voting, as well as focus their attention on issues that we believe to be critically important to the future of hematology and oncology, and health care in general.
In addition to addressing some of the extant political and social challenges relating to health care, we hope to encourage increased prominence in HemOnc Today of new features, such as content devoted to advanced care practitioners, a greater level of international focus, more detailed attention to the changes from volume-driven medical care to a value-linked algorithm, the challenges faced by independent practitioners, and emerging trends in cancer centers and health care systems.
Without the burden of specific linkage to any professional organization, with attendant mandates and the representation of specific constituencies, we believe that HemOnc Today is well positioned to air issues of substantial importance to our medical community and its patients, and to hold accountable those with responsibility for rational oversight and the design and implementation of productive and effective change in health care.
For more information:
Derek Raghavan, MD, PhD, FACP, FRACP, FASCO, is HemOnc Today’s Chief Medical Editor, Oncology. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Sweetenham, MD, FRCP, FACP, is HemOnc Today’s Chief Medical Editor, Hematology. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Disclosure: Raghavan and Sweetenham report no relevant financial disclosures.