Allina Health Breast Program earns innovation award for system-wide breast cancer care
MINNEAPOLIS 06/14/2012--The Allina Health Breast Program was recognized for work that began three years ago to ensure that patients receive consistently exceptional breast cancer care from diagnosis to recovery across Allina Health.
This video shows how surgery specimens are handled in the operating room and prepared for analysis in the lab. This is one example of the system-wide guidelines put in place that helped Allina Health earn the Association of Community Cancer Centers 2012 Innovator Award.
"It takes a long time to change outcome data, but if you concentrate on improving processes, you will improve outcomes," says Dan Dunn, MD, a surgeon and chairman of the Allina Health Breast Program committee that includes 48 physicians, nurses, hospital support staff and managers.
The committee based their work on 31 nationally-accepted quality guidelines. In actual practice, Allina hospitals sometimes performed above the national levels. Eventually, the committee agreed on a set of system-wide guidelines.
New work processes were created where needed, and practice is measured with the expectation that compliance will positively affect patient care, experience and survival.
Examples of system-wide guidelines that led to the innovation award:
How much healthy tissue surgeons remove along the margins of cancerous tissue.
How surgery specimens are handled in the operating room and prepared for analysis in the lab. (This video shows how this is done.)
How the lab determines margin status while the patient is still in surgery.
"Margin status is the most important aspect in the surgical management of a patient receiving breast conserving therapy," Dunn says. "Margin status affects whether you remove more tissue. Margin status affects local recurrence rates, and ultimately, margin status affects the survival of the patient."
"Prepping specimens in a consistent and timely way impacts the accuracy of the patient's diagnosis, and ultimately sets the course for their treatment and long-term outcomes,” says Tamera Lillemoe, MD, a pathologist and breast committee member.
A Patient Advisory Committee also influences the breast committee. One of its first recommendations was that patients should receive a needle biopsy the same day as the diagnostic work-up, since a delay in diagnosis is so stressful.
Allina Health breast centers joined together, analyzed their workflow and successfully increased from 50 to 70 percent of patients receiving same-day needle biopsies. The change also resulted in unanticipated care improvements.
Other award-winning guidelines were:
Standardizing the use of PET scans during the surveillance period of breast cancer care, and
Identifying patients with hereditary breast or ovarian cancer syndromes for genetic counseling
Allina Health is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of illness and enhancing the greater health of individuals, families and communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. A not-for-profit health care system, Allina Health cares for patients from beginning to end-of-life through its 90+ clinics, 11 hospitals, 15 pharmacies, specialty care centers and specialty medical services that provide hospice care, oxygen and home medical equipment, and emergency medical transportation services. Learn more at allinahealth.org.