Compass Oncology Palliative Care Physician to be Presenting Author at First ASCO Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium this Week

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Oct 24, 2014

Compass Oncology Palliative Care Physician to be Presenting Author at First ASCO Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium this Weekend

This weekend the inaugural Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium will take place in Boston, Mass., where Compass Oncology physician, Dr. Angela Kalisiak, will present a large retrospective review on the benefits of a focused effort to integrate earlier palliative care for patients with serious cancers treated in a community setting.

“The heart of the initiative we launched at Compass is really about improving the care of the person as well as the disease,” said Dr. Angela Kalisiak, medical oncologist and medical director of the practice’s palliative care program. “The ripple effect of cancer touches every aspect of a life and we know we achieve the best care when we provide support in every way.”

In 2009 Compass Oncology set out to do just that with an ongoing quality improvement program focused on the early integration of palliative care principles for patients with advanced cancer. At the time, most palliative care programs only existed in the hospital setting, despite the fact that the majority of cancer patients are treated in community practices like Compass.

The innovative quality program was launched in 2009 with detailed metrics for ongoing evaluation. It is a five year review of these metrics assessing the care of more than 4,000 patients that Dr. Kalisiak will share in a poster session at the symposium. The on-going program embeds a palliative care specialist in the primary oncology team, integrates social workers into the practice, standardizes its approach to advance care planning, provides palliative care education for the staff and most importantly fosters communication skills.

“At the end of the day, the most basic rule of human caring is simply talking to people,” explains Dr. Kalisiak. “We need to understand our patients’ goals if we are to improve their care and honor their wishes. How are they living with cancer? What do they need to live better? If the cancer cannot be cured, what do they want their final days to look like?”

These questions are central to the rising importance of palliative care in America, as evidenced by the well respected organizations sponsoring this inaugural event.  They include the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) and the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC).

“This symposium is incredibly important,” said Dr. Kalisiak.  “We know that palliative care positively impacts the quality of oncology care for both patients and their families, yet obstacles exist to widespread implementation of palliative care programs. This is an opportunity to bring together leaders in the field and discuss what’s working best across the country. I’m gratified to be selected to share our experiences as a community practice and hopeful that they will help others implement programs in their own communities.”