How are STAR Program clinicians trained to deliver high-quality care?
Professional training — most oncologists and other physicians receive very little training in oncology rehabilitation. The same holds true for rehabilitation professionals including physical and occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists. The STAR Program includes a robust series of training modules based on the latest evidence-based research and best practices.
Who within the STAR Program provides care to address physical impairments?
Multidisciplinary teams — despite the call for coordinated cancer care, there is often a nonexistent or weak interface between oncology and rehabilitation healthcare providers. Cancer survivors regularly exhibit multiple physical impairments that may even affect more than one organ system. As such, treatment and rehabilitation of the cancer patient or survivor cannot be approached from a singular perspective. STAR Program protocols have been developed to engage both oncology and rehab teams to assure patients receive high-quality care.
How does the STAR Program help clinicians accurately identify and treat physical impairments for oncology patients?
Assessment tools — Physicians and rehabilitation professionals alike often use screening tools in the evaluation of patients (e.g., asking a patient if they have fallen recently) and, although these methods might be appropriate for quickly screening less complex patients. Sometimes subtle impairments can progress into significant disabilities. High-quality oncology rehab care requires the use of standardized tools, regular screening and appropriate referral processes throughout the continuum of cancer care.
How do STAR Programs measure their performance?
Outcome Evaluation — Critical to the provision of high-quality oncology rehab care is the evaluation of patient and program outcomes; quantifying successes and challenges to both the patient and facility. Today, many hospitals use tools that may not be well-suited for the treatment and tracking of complex cancer patient populations. STAR Programs use a standardized outcome tracking process and have the opportunity to measure performance against STAR Program benchmarks nationwide.
How do STAR Programs improve access to care for their local patient population?
Community Outreach — in many cases patients and oncologists alike may not be aware of the existence of local cancer rehabilitation services. Cancer rehabilitation services may not be well-coordinated with oncology care services. STAR Programs are provided marketing resources such as media kits, brochure templates, press releases and social media support to drive community awareness.
 Vargo MM. The oncology-rehabilitation interface: Better systems needed. J Clin Oncol. 2008;26(16):2610-1.