Delivering better patient care through regional forums

Icon Writers / 11 Dec, 2023

Finding grassroot solutions through industry collaborations 

Better coordination between healthcare providers, more holistic support services for regional cancer patients – these are two focus points emerging from regional forums hosted by Icon cancer centres with local patient advisory groups (PAGs). 

The forums, held this year in Townsville, Queensland and most recently in Maitland, New South Wales, are part of an ongoing effort to identify improvements, create actionable solutions and deliver a better patient experience.

Key areas of focus

These forums highlighted gaps in cancer patient experience and triggered ongoing conversations to find solutions that respond to challenges faced by people living with cancer in Australia including:

  • Creating a local cancer care services directory for patients and healthcare providers to better share information and resources with each other.
  • Better transport to treatment and accommodation options for rural and regional patients.
  • Greater allied health support to provide a more holistic approach to cancer care including mental health and nutrition support.

Icon Cancer Centre Townsville regional forum

Icon Cancer Centre Townsville regional forum

CEO Icon Cancer Centre (AU/NZ), Paul Fenton says these forums are great examples of connecting with community to improve patient care.

“Partnerships are the backbone of delivering exceptional healthcare,” said Paul.

“We’re committed to being active members of the communities we serve and recognise it takes a village to deliver meaningful solutions.

“By partnering with local charities, support groups, and patients we’re listening and actively seeking to make changes that have the potential to improve cancer care.

“We know we can’t find all the solutions overnight, but these forums provide an opportunity to connect and start meaningful conversations for improvement.”

Practical outcomes and next steps

As a direct result of these regional forums, steps are being made to provide a more coordinated approach to cancer care. Early collaborations and outcomes include:

  • Cancer Council Queensland Supportive Care Liaison Volunteers
    Following the Townsville regional forum, Icon partnered with Cancer Council Queensland in their Supportive Care Liaison Volunteers program to provide peer support to patients, carers and family members affected by cancer. Icon is looking for volunteers to join the team in North Lakes, Townsville, Cairns and Mackay.
  • Connecting with local charities to provide better patient transport options
    In 2022, more than 1,700 courses of radiation therapy were administered in the Maitland area across the public and private cancer centres. Of these, over 20% of patients travelled more than a 2.5 hour round trip to access their treatment. This burden of travel was discussed at both forums with Icon teams continuing discussions with local PAGs to come up with volunteer transport solutions. These solutions are already being seen at other locations, including most recently at Mildura Health Icon Cancer Centre in regional Victoria. Read the full story here.

Icon will host more regional forums across the country with planning underway for meetings in Cairns, Hobart and Adelaide. More to come as we partner together to find solutions to improve regional cancer care.

Background to regional forums

In 2021, Icon Group commissioned an independent national survey to uncover the perceptions of what makes the best possible cancer care and understand the barriers to achieving it. Surveying 590 patients across public and private healthcare, the results were discussed in a national industry round table with executives from Cancer Council Australia, Cure Brain Cancer Foundation, Leukaemia Foundation, Lung Foundation Australia, Ovarian Cancer Australia, and Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia. The meeting highlighted cancer care gaps and triggered a conversation to find actionable solutions to respond to challenged faced by people living with cancer in Australia.

The initial action from the meeting was to replicate similar forums regionally to understand local challenges and deliver collaborative solutions community by community.

Read the full report here.

Icon Cancer Centre Maitland regional forum

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