Comprehensive Cancer Rehabilitation Offers Hospitals Point of Differentiation

October 1, 2013

by Sheryl S. Jackson

Sheryl S. JacksonCancer care has become a significant service offered by more than 1,500 facilities accredited by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons, with com­munity hospitals representing a growing number of ac­credited facilities. The capacity to meet cancer patients’ needs is an essential part of a hospital’s ability to attract and retain physicians and new patients. There is, however, a piece of cancer care missing in many programs that is now required by the Commission on Cancer – rehabilitation.

The good news for community hospitals is that the rehabilitation services required are already in place in the hospital’s rehabilitation department. The better news is that offering a comprehensive, cancer-focused rehabilitation program that is part of the cancer care course (as opposed to an ancillary service) differentiates the hospital’s oncology service from others in the market.

“We saw 90 referrals to our outpatient cancer rehab service in the first eight months of the program, with all of them coming to us from physicians who had never referred a patient previously,” says Stephanie Dotson, PT, manager of rehabilitation services and clinical coordinator of the STAR Program at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington, IL. STAR stands for sur­vivorship training and rehabilitation and was developed by a Massachusetts physician in search of rehabilitation after suffering debilitating side effects from cancer treatment.

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