Why Is Accreditation Important?

James McKenna, MHA, Director
James McKenna, MHA, Director

Accreditation is a voluntary commitment aimed at making sure that a cancer program offers a full range of services required to diagnose, treat, rehabilitate and support patients and their families. Continual evaluation of program performance promotes patient engagement and high-quality patient care.

The Gene Upshaw Memorial Tahoe Forest Cancer Center is a triple accredited cancer program. It has received a three-year accreditation from the Commission on Cancer (CoC); a QOPI Certification; and the ASTRO Accreditation Program for Excellence. Let me explain the value of this alphabet soup to you.

The American College of Surgeons (ACOS) established its Commission on Cancer (CoC) to accredit those cancer programs in the country that demonstrate improved cancer patient outcomes and quality of life through standard-setting, prevention, research, education and the monitoring of comprehensive quality care. We voluntarily applied for this accreditation and received it in 2013. It was renewed in 2016. This accreditation gives us national recognition from organizations such as the Joint Commission on Hospital Accreditation, the American Cancer Society, and the National Cancer Institute for having established performance measures for ensuring high-quality care.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) established its Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI) Certification Program to measure an individual practice’s performance in areas that affect patient care and safety. Data are collected and compared with other practices on more than 100 quality measures. To achieve QOPI Certification, a practice must have met or exceeded a benchmark score on measures that compared the quality of its care against national standards. We achieved this certification in 2017.

The American Society of Therapeutic Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) created its Accreditation Program for Excellence (APEx) to certify radiation oncology programs that build upon and integrate ASTRO's quality improvement initiatives. The APEx standards for performance are derived from evidence-based guidelines and consensus statements on practice for radiation oncology. The safety and efficiency of practices throughout the country are greatly improved through this accreditation. We received our APEx accreditation in 2017.

Population studies estimate a significant increase in cancer diagnoses by 2030. Small cancer centers, away from large urban centers, need to effectively demonstrate that their services provide state-of-the-art quality. As these numbers increase, systems such as virtual tumor boards, clinical trials and telemedicine enable rural patients to obtain quality care locally.

Accreditation and its evaluative rigor assures the patient that they will receive the same quality of care at home as he or she would from a major center. Determining quality of care is not easy for cancer patients. Some places espouse quality but lack coordination. Patients need to discern the difference between creative marketing and true quality care. Very few rural cancer programs have received these levels of certification. Our team is very proud of these achievements.

The Gene Upshaw Memorial Tahoe Forest Cancer Center, with its team of superlative clinicians and support staff, knows that there is consistent evidence that accreditation improves the process of care by health care services with improved clinical outcomes for the patient. Central to this program is our membership in the UC Davis Cancer Care Network, an integrated, collaborative program that unites hospital–based cancer centers for the purpose of delivering high-quality care in rural settings.

It is important that our patients get to know their whole care team. That is something in which we take pride. Hopefully our accreditations and certifications by these national organizations will add to your sense of security. You are family and we are your rural cancer center of excellence.

Gene Upshaw Memorial Tahoe Forest Cancer Center Accreditations

Sponsor Program Year Measure
ACOS COC 2013
Renewed 2016
Patient outcomes and quality of life
ASCO QOPI 2017 Patient care and safety
ASTRO APEx 2017 Radiation oncology quality initiatives

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Commission on Cancer Accredited Program