3 things to know about MD Anderson Cancer Network®

At MD Anderson, we believe that everyone deserves the best possible cancer care.

But we know that an extended stay in Houston isn’t a viable option for everyone, and we want to meet people where they are. Our mission dictates that we’ll help people who have cancer regardless of their location, and our MD Anderson Cancer Network® allows us to do just that.

At its core, Cancer Network builds relationships with other hospitals and health systems across Texas, the nation and the globe to share our proven standards of care and the knowledge of our world-renowned oncology experts. This collaboration can take different forms, from complete adoption of our methods and operations to advising on quality best practices to advancing the oncology field through clinical trials and academic exchanges.

Here's what we want patients and caregivers to know about the Cancer Network.

1.  We have a rigorous process for selecting organizations with which to collaborate.

“Each level of participation has specific requirements and assessments,” says Michael Brown, president and chief executive officer of MD Anderson Physicians Network. “We have far more interest from organizations that want to collaborate with us than those we actually bring into the Cancer Network.”

Most don’t even make it to our due diligence process because they didn’t meet our pre-qualifications requirements, which typically include cancer care capabilities, provider engagement and national certifications.

Partner members are required to integrate their clinical operations with MD Anderson and mirror how we deliver cancer care. There’s even a formal reporting relationship with medical directors at partner sites.

For certified member hospitals, we assess and offer tailored recommendations for clinical quality improvements. These physicians and organizations must meet national quality guidelines. For all Cancer Network providers, we offer education, remote multidisciplinary tumor boards and peer-to-peer consultation.

2.  We have a wealth of expertise to share, and we’re interested in learning from others.

Education is in our DNA at MD Anderson. So when our physicians review patients’ cases and treatment options with affiliated providers, they take advantage of opportunities to teach others and learn from them. Many of these providers already have a connection to MD Anderson, having completed residencies or fellowships here.

Administrators from MD Anderson and our members across the U.S. also share best practices on operational efficiencies that positively affect our hospitals.

And through our Global Academic Program and sister institution relationships, our researchers can learn from and collaborate with oncologists around the globe. Some of our most important clinical studies have involved member institutions.

“There’s really an exciting undercurrent of knowledge sharing in all aspects of our network,” says Michael Kupferman, M.D., senior vice president for Cancer Network Clinical and Academic Development.

“The Global Academic Program focuses on advancing awareness and education in the areas of population health, public policy, and clinical and translational research,” adds Kupferman.

3. We need teamwork to advance our understanding of how to end cancer.

Cancer Network activities align with other MD Anderson priorities such as advancing population health interventions as well as legislative policy initiatives.

“We’re excited to expand our research portfolio by creating a national clinical trials network,” Kupferman says.

By quickly accruing diverse patient populations onto our clinical trials, we can speed up data collection and translate it into meaningful scientific insights. This enables us to study more early-stage treatments, cancer in specific demographic groups, as well as rare tumors.

“This effort will make clinical trials more accessible, comprehensive and relevant to larger numbers of patients,” Kupferman says.

He adds that if you only remember one thing about Cancer Network, remember this: On both a small and large scale, effective cancer care is about teamwork. MD Anderson pioneered multidisciplinary care centered around the patient, so it only makes sense that we’d scale that concept to national and international providers and their patients.

Mindy Loya contributed to this article.

A longer version of this story originally appeared in Messenger, MD Anderson’s quarterly publication for employees, volunteers, retirees and their families.

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