Thursday, Feb 19, 2009
Indianapolis, Los Angeles, South San Francisco, Washington, D.C. -- February 19, 2009 --Tens of thousands of people surviving a cancer diagnosis may benefit from a new program being introduced today by a collaboration of health care providers, patient advocates, health benefit insurers and a biotechnology company.
Journey Forward (http://www.journeyforward.org), which is launching as a pilot program in California, Colorado, Maine, Nevada and New Hampshire, promotes physician and patient understanding of the post-treatment effects of cancer. By facilitating the development of a survivorship care plan, the program aims to improve continuity and coordination of care for cancer survivors throughout their lives.
This first-of-its-kind program was created in response to recommendations by the independent Institute of Medicine (IOM), which concluded in a November 2005 report that "the consequences of cancer and its treatment are substantial" and largely unmet. The report says many cancer survivors are "lost in transition" from active treatment to survivorship, with few clues about how to manage their follow-up care and about the physical and mental health problems that may result from their treatment.
"Patients often have no idea what to expect once they've finished their cancer treatment, and neither do the primary care providers on their team," said Dr. Patricia Ganz, director of the UCLA Cancer Survivorship Center and a nationally renowned expert on survivorship. "There is a need for better post-treatment coordination of care and the treatment summary and survivorship care plan is a place to start. Survivors often don't know what kind of surveillance and follow-up care they need to monitor for disease recurrence or any late effects that may result from their cancer treatment."
"By providing tools and information to both parties, Journey Forward opens the door for improved dialogue between physicians and patients and promotes the coordination of long-term care for people with cancer. It also gives survivors a greater opportunity to participate in their care," said Ellen Stovall, a three-time cancer survivor and acting president & CEO of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship.
Journey Forward, a collaboration among National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS), the UCLA Cancer Survivorship Center, WellPoint, Inc. and Genentech, will distribute kits to health care providers and patients that explain the importance of follow-up care plans, offer tools for providers to generate these plans and offer interactive tools for patients to participate in the process. The kits, which are also available online at http://www.journeyforward.org, are tailored to oncologists, patients and primary care physicians. Journey Forward will initially focus on survivors of breast and colon cancers as well as oncologists and primary care providers. The program will later expand to target additional providers and survivors of additional cancer types throughout the country.
"WellPoint is committed to working with other health care partners to develop innovative programs and services that improve the health of our communities and consumers," said Angela F. Braly, president and CEO, WellPoint, Inc. "Through collaborative efforts like Journey Forward, we can help physicians, members and insurers work together toward short-term and long-term treatment plans that help ensure the most appropriate health care services for each patient."
David Schenkein, M.D., Genentech's senior vice president, Clinical Oncology and Hematology, adds: "Improved diagnostic testing and new personalized cancer medicines have helped many people live longer lives. Journey Forward can help ensure that, after a person completes their initial cancer treatment, they continue to get the best possible care as they begin to rebuild their life."
UCLA Cancer Survivorship Center
The UCLA Cancer Survivorship Center's mission is to provide high quality clinical care for post-treatment cancer patients, provide information on improving survivorship quality-of-life, pursue cutting-edge survivorship research and educate the community on survivorship care and concerns. The center has become the focal point of survivorship activities at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and UCLA Healthcare. The center is developing models of health care delivery to meet the physical and psychosocial needs of cancer survivors.
WellPoint is committed to improving the lives and health of the people and communities we serve by simplifying the connection between health, care and value. Our goal is to help shape the impact each health care decision has on individuals, the health care system at-large, and our communities. WellPoint's more than 42,000 associates work every day to help create the best health care value for our customers. Through collaborations with providers and with innovative programs, WellPoint's affiliated health plans reward healthy lifestyles and quality, safe and effective care. As the nation's largest health benefits company, with more than 35 million members in its affiliated health plans, WellPoint is at the center of the health care system. This position provides us with the relationships and insights needed to help create affordable and actionable solutions that improve health care.
As an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, WellPoint serves members as the Blue Cross licensee for California; the Blue Cross and Blue Shield licensee for Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri (excluding 30 counties in the Kansas City area), Nevada, New Hampshire, New York (as the Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in 10 New York City metropolitan and surrounding counties and as the Blue Cross or Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in selected upstate counties only), Ohio, Virginia (excluding the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.), Wisconsin; and through UniCare. Additional information about WellPoint is available at http://www.wellpoint.com.
Founded more than 30 years ago, Genentech is a leading biotechnology company that discovers, develops, manufactures and commercializes medicines for patients with significant unmet medical needs. The company has headquarters in South San Francisco, California and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DNA. For additional information about the company, please visit http://www.gene.com.