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New strategy improving outcome for breast cancer patients, doctor

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New approach: Chris Fosker of the Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre, with Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, at today’s press conference (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A new approach to breast cancer treatment is improving outcomes for patients, according to a senior medic.

Chris Fosker, the medical director of the Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre, said that wait times between diagnosis and treatment had been reduced and patients were better informed following the implementation of an “integrated pathway” of collaborative treatment.

At a press conference yesterday, Dr Fosker said that the strategy was implemented two years ago under the guidance of the Bermuda Hospitals Board, which brought various stakeholders – including patients – under one umbrella to improve efficiencies and the quality of care.

A team of 35 clinicians, including oncologists, radiologists and surgeons, have met 21 breast cancer sufferers during the course of the programme.

Dr Fosker said: “What we really heard from the patients was that care was good but there were trouble points along the way where they didn’t understand what should be happening next; they didn’t know how long it should take; they didn’t know who they should be talking to.

“What we’ve done with the integrated pathway is focus on time. What we’ve been able to demonstrate is that for some ladies working their way through, it was taking too long to go from the biopsy, to get the diagnosis, to the treatment.

“We can clearly see a significant improvement in how quickly ladies are going from that first concern, whether that’s a mammogram or a lump, getting the diagnosis, getting the information they need and starting their treatment pathway.

“Time is a really simple thing to measure and we’re able to demonstrate that’s an area where we can improve. It’s been shown that just by speeding up the pathway you will improve experience and outcome.”

Scott Pearman, the deputy chief executive officer of BHB, added: “The process for the breast cancer pathway improvements has been to understand all of the critical touchpoints for the management of a breast cancer diagnosis and listen to all those involved as we develop ways to make a more co-ordinated, efficient, and supportive of patients.”

“As the breast cancer pathway shows, it helps us to improve quality, experience and outcomes for patients while reducing inefficiencies, minimising delays and reducing overall health system cost.

The programme and its results were welcomed by Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health.

Ms Wilson revealed that breast cancer was the most common cancer among women and accounted for 17 per cent of all cancer diagnoses on the island.

She stressed that integrated care pathways could be introduced to other areas of healthcare.

Ms Wilson said: “This initiative is part of a broader initiative led by the Bermuda Hospitals Board to create an integrated approach to improving hospital services in collaboration with community providers, charities and patients.

“The bigger picture of integration involves making our healthcare system work together more efficiently for patients. This includes improving access to necessary services, making them available closer to home when appropriate, and enhancing co-ordination between different services and agencies.

“I am thrilled to have witnessed the progress being made in integrating cancer care pathways, including the remarkable work done by organisations and cancer patients to improve the experience and outcome for people in Bermuda.

“The breast cancer care pathway is the first of many integrated cancer care pathways that will be improved.

“I’m excited to see the fruits of many individuals, groups and organisations who have put in a lot of hard work to get us to where we are right now.

“Together we can achieve far more than we can individually and there is an excellent opportunity to make improvements that will prioritise the people in Bermuda. I anticipate witnessing continued progress and improvements in cancer care here in Bermuda.”

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Published May 04, 2023 at 7:34 am (Updated May 04, 2023 at 8:48 am)

New strategy improving outcome for breast cancer patients, doctor

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