Many factors can affect the way patients access their care. But one thing is certain: if patients don’t get the care they need, their chances for success decline. To address barriers to cancer care, the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer (CoC) outlined specific, measurable actions that institutions must take.

According to the CoC’s revised Standard 8.1 Addressing Barriers to Care, “Each calendar year, the cancer committee identifies at least one patient-, system-, or provider-based barrier to accessing health and/or psychosocial care that its patients with cancer are facing and develops and implements a plan to address the barrier.”

Developing a Plan          

Nursing professionals may be required to develop strategies to identify and address barriers to care. Getting started might seem daunting, but the CoC offers resources to help begin the process and outline the necessary components for success.

Conduct an analysis of cancer barriers: Ask where barriers are occurring and how they’re preventing patients from accessing care. The CoC recommends using patient satisfaction scores, feedback from focus groups, state or local registries, and community needs assessments as tools to get started.

Identify all the barriers: Once the information has been collected, create a list of barriers patients could be experiencing. Examples include a high number of missed office visits, larger percentage of uninsured or underinsured patients, or shortage of healthcare providers.

Select the barrier: Choose one from the list of barriers and implement strategies to reduce it. Ensure the solutions are detailed (e.g., applying for grants to assist patients with transportation costs) and outcomes are measurable (e.g., reducing missed offices visits by 10%).

Collect data and compile reports: Include pertinent information about which barrier was chosen and why, resources and process used to identify and reduce the barrier in practice, and the outcome metrics after strategies were in place.

Closing Gaps in Care

Nurses understand the issues patients face when accessing care. From barriers related to transportation, insurance, and underserved populations to the healthcare provider shortage, nurses provide unique solutions to the problems affecting care delivery in their institutions.