Patients living in extreme poverty face huge barriers in accessing cancer care. There are provider, system and personal barriers that must all be overcome in order for a patient to receive timely, appropriate care and have a chance at survival. One of the biggest challenges is navigating the complex path from diagnosis through treatment to follow-up and all the visits, financial costs, clinic locations and information overload they include.
GO is piloting a new program, with the first sites in Belize and Jamaica, to help patients eliminate these barriers and more easily access cancer care. We are drawing from the successful models of patient navigation and directly observed therapy in TB/HIV to inform our new directly observed care (DOC) programs.
What is GO-DOC?
This comprehensive patient-focused intervention is based on five core principles:
- Accompaniment of cancer patients throughout their care journey
- Proactive removal of barriers to ensure that every patient receives high-quality, timely cancer care
- Availability of expert consultation network of specialist oncologists
- Patient education and empowerment
- Rigorous measurement and evaluation leading to continuous improvement
Belizean medical oncologist, Dr. Ramon Yacab (above right), leading first ever public oncology treatment program in Belize
- Increase the number of patients receiving initial oncologic consultation within 1 month of being referred into program
- Increase the number of patients initiating treatment within 2 months of initial consultation
- Increase the number of patients completing first cycle of chemotherapy on schedule
- Ensure that all patients are referred to palliative care services when needed
- Improve the 5-year survival rate for patients living under the poverty line
Seamless collaboration with several partners will be key in the success of the DOC program.