During a recent meeting at the American Cancer Executives Meeting in Charleston, South Carolina, I had the opportunity to listen to Bill Laffey speak on the CoC standards. His perspective from being an administrator rather than a physician was a change from most presentations I had heard. I went on to ask him a few questions I thought would be of interest to our readers.
Why did you pursue being a Commission on Cancer surveyor?
I was somewhat involved with helping change the standards for the new survey manual published in 2012. With all of the positive changes (away from simply committee documentation, and more towards operations and quality), I suggested to the CoC that it might be well to look for administrative surveyors who have actually done things like start a risk assessment program or a navigation process. They agreed and gave me the opportunity to become their first non-MD program administrator surveyor. Since then, the CoC has added more non-MD administrators. We’ve found that adds a different dimension to surveys and we can share best practices across the nation more easily, since we understand the opportunities and constraints faced by cancer programs.
What do you believe are the most common concerns of a cancer program? How does this relate to the Commission on Cancer accreditation or does it?
I think all cancer programs are concerned with providing quality care, serving the patients in their communities and maintaining a financially viable and sustainable operation. The CoC standards provide a framework for establishing (or enhancing) a program’s quality outcomes. In addition, access to data from the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB), which is available only to CoC-accredited programs, allows for performance measure comparison for these outcome measures. The NCDB data can also be used to help programs determine if they are gaining or losing patients, where those patients are going, and what types of treatments they are seeking so that the program can dig deeper and perhaps change some situations that are causing their patients to go elsewhere for treatment. This not only helps in the provision of quality care, but allows programs to enhance their bottom line.
Do you have an amusing survey story that you can share?
The only amusing story I can think of is when we were taking a tour of a hospital’s infusion center and a patient ran up to the program manager loudly complaining how long he has been waiting to see the doctor. The manager was mortified, of course, but we’ve all been there as program leaders and it didn’t affect our view that the program provided excellent care. I could also tell you about the time I contracted Legionnaire’s Disease while conducting a survey, but that wasn’t so ‘amusing’………
I also learned Bill has a love for baseball and continues to play in a senior league. He and his son went to the red Sox Fantasy Camp. “Part of the deal was that, the following summer, we were able to play a game in Fenway Park in Boston”. This is a picture of that great experience!