By transforming the quality, safety, efficiency, and outcomes of care for cancer patients, precision medicine, also known as personalized medicine, is rapidly advancing as the new frontier of cancer care. Recognizing the complexities of cancer – not to mention the evolving use of patient data – doctors around the globe are challenged to stay on top of these changes and to deliver care that is based on the best clinical evidence available.
Committed to delivering best-in-class, evidence-based cancer care, NROC’s partnership with UPMC brings a robust doctor collaboration and training program to Kazakhstan to meet this challenge head on.
“The leadership of Kazakhstan has a strong desire to make cancer and the health of the country top priorities,” says Dwight Heron, MD, FACRO, FACR, radiation oncologist and vice chairman of Radiation Services at UPMC. “And ensure they implement world-class care for its citizens.”
Kenneth Alibek, MD, PhD, CEO of the National Research Center for Oncology and Transplantology,
has committed considerable resources to ensure strategic initiatives are executed on schedule and every project objective is met in order to achieve the ultimate goal of providing the highest quality of care. UPMC cancer physicians, scientists, and other health care professionals are assisting in every phase of the process.
“Our partnership is an ongoing exchange of information focused on doctor and nurse education and patient experience,” says Lanie Francis, MD, associate medical director, Medical Oncology of UPMC International Services.
“A primary focus at NROC will be a shifting of some of the patient care responsibilities to nurses so doctors can concentrate on making treatment decisions,” Dr. Francis explains. “Also, at NROC, medical oncology patients will be treated on an outpatient basis. This will transform the oncology patient experience. Instead of being admitted and confined to a bed, the patient will be able to come and go as they undergo treatment.
These are significant and transformative shifts that will require changes in mindset and the practice of medicine.
“Education and training are paramount,” says Dr. Heron. “We’re providing learning opportunities in many different formats. Doctors and nurses are continually traveling from Astana to Pittsburgh, and vice versa to ensure the durability and
sustainability of these advances.”
The doctors and nurses in Kazakhstan have been extremely receptive and enthusiastic, according to Dr. Francis. “It is this type of momentum that an undertaking of this magnitude needs to achieve our goals, to really change the way oncology care is delivered in Kazakhstan.”
To date, 55 individuals from Kazakhstan have shadowed UPMC oncologists, nurses, and administrators.
“The experience affords an opportunity for doctors and nurses to see first-hand how we operate our cancer clinics,” notes Dr. Francis. “This is an important part of the training, as the new oncology hospital will employ the same care model used by UPMC when it opens.” The international tumor board—including pathology, medical, radiation, and surgical oncology—is also a very important part of the training, the doctors explain.
“Tumor board provides an opportunity for Kazakhstani doctors to discuss active patient cases with UPMC cancer specialists in the US, Italy, and Ireland,” says Dr. Heron. “Access to expert physicians who routinely treat complex, aggressive, and rare cancers will undoubtedly lead to higher-quality care for patients in Kazakhstan.”
“We are thrilled with the significant progress that’s been made,” Dr. Heron adds. “Together, UPMC and Kazakhstan will improve the quality of oncology care and build a state-of-the-art cancer center in Astana. Down the road, our hope is to partner with the government to build a premier cancer center network throughout Kazakhstan to make getting treatment even more convenient for the patient.”