National Comprehensive Cancer Network Launches Health Equity Report Card

Feb. 6, 2023
Report card seeks to help healthcare organizations identify and address discriminatory behaviors and bias in care delivery

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN)—a nonprofit alliance of cancer centers in the United States — has launched a new Health Equity Report Card pilot program.

In 2020, NCCN, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) and the National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF) launched the Elevating Cancer Equity initiative, featuring a working group chaired by Robert A. Winn, M.D., director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center, and Shonta Chambers, M.S.W., executive vice president of health equity and community engagement at the Patient Advocate Foundation. In early 2021, that group developed the HERC to recommend actionable practice changes that, if implemented, would help providers and healthcare organizations identify and address discriminatory behaviors and bias in care delivery, address social determinants of health, and overcome systemic barriers to optimal care.

The 17 actionable practice changes from the HERC have been refined into an implementation plan including concrete metrics, sources of evidence, and a scoring methodology, all of which were vetted by oncology administrators and healthcare providers. In the first phase of a multi-phase pilot, five leading academic cancer centers are assessing the feasibility of implementing the HERC as a tool that can both meaningfully and feasibly measure and report on equitable care practices. Feedback through the pilot stages of implementation will be incorporated to ensure applicability across care settings and geographies.

"Our hope is that the Health Equity Report Card will be able to serve as a roadmap for health care organizations working to improve their practice, a transparency tool for patients, and an assessment tool for payers and accreditation entities," said Robert W. Carlson, M.D., CEO of NCCN, in a statement. "Inequities in cancer outcomes across race and ethnicity have numerous contributing factors, including different levels of access to comprehensive insurance coverage, bias and discrimination in care delivery, and social determinants of health such as neighborhood and built environment, access to economic and educational opportunity, and food insecurity due to historic and ongoing structural discrimination. This accountability tool will be more than just a checklist exercise; we hope it will result in interventions that lead to meaningful, sustainable systems changes."

A peer-reviewed article with more information on the program will be published soon in JNCCN—Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

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