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Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's Network, Strategic Alliances, and Collaborators

  • Advances in Hematologic Malignancies Issue 8, Spring 2018

    David Steensma, MD, and Edwin Alyea, MD

    In recent years, academic medical centers have increasingly created partnerships in collaboration with community-based providers and other academic medical centers. Such partnerships can benefit both patients and health care professionals by providing educational opportunities, expanding access to clinical trials, improving standardization and quality of care, and expediting referral of patients from one center to another.

    The Dana-Farber Cancer Care Collaborative was formed in 2015 to formalize some of the relationships that already existed informally, and to take advantage of opportunities for shared education, research, and clinical practice. These collaborations continue to grow and evolve.

    This type of partnership was certainly not new for Dana-Farber; more than 15 years ago Dana-Farber joined with Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School, and four of its affiliated hospitals to create the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC), to leverage the talent and resources of the collective research community. In 1996, Dana-Farber and the founding members of the Partners HealthCare system (i.e., Brigham and Women's Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital) consolidated their clinical research as Dana-Farber/Partners Cancer Care.

    Members of the new Dana-Farber Cancer Care Collaborative for Adult Medical Oncology currently include Berkshire Medical Center Cancer Center in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Eastern Maine Medical Center/Lafayette Family Cancer Center in Brewer, Maine, Stamford Hospital/Bennett Cancer Center in Stamford, Connecticut, and UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, MA. Members of the Collaborative are eligible to open Dana-Farber clinical trials locally. In addition, a strategic alliance with Lifespan Cancer Institute in Rhode Island expands clinical trial access and coordinates treatment of stem cell transplant patients, and an affiliation with MaineHealth in Portland, Maine, streamlines access for patients seeking Dana-Farber expertise.

    Members of this collaborative have the opportunity to participate in frequent network case conferences and to expedite patient referrals to Dana-Farber's Longwood campus, and each center has undergone an extensive and rigorous review of patient safety protocols, nursing and pharmacy practices, information systems, and chemotherapy administration. At an annual symposium last held in December 2017, attendees from across the collaboration had a chance to discuss ongoing challenges such as operational aspects of clinical trials; formalize disease-specific pathways for treatment; and learn from each other's practices in areas such as approaches to medication prior authorizations and clinical staffing.

    Dana-Farber also has four "satellite" practice locations that are owned and directly managed by the Institute, as well as three community cancer care practices; these were formed in the last decade in order to provide high-quality care to patients closer to their home communities. The satellites include Dana-Farber/New Hampshire Hematology Oncology in Londonderry, New Hampshire; Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center at Milford Regional Medical Center; Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center in clinical affiliation with South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, Massachusetts; and Dana-Farber at St. Elizabeth's Medical Center in Brighton, Massachusetts. The relationship with St. Elizabeth's Medical Center includes a number of specialists who physically travel out from the Longwood campus in order to provide care for patients in Brighton; specialists also go out to the other satellite practices. The Dana-Farber Community Cancer Care practices in Lawrence, Methuen, and Weymouth, Massachusetts, also practice in close collaboration with Dana-Farber Longwood providers.

    Relationships between individual physicians are at the heart of these collaborative efforts. In addition to leaders at the more than 10 sites mentioned above, there are six disease center-based liaisons between Dana-Farber and network collaborators, who can provide specialty expertise. These include David Steensma, MD, for hematologic malignancies; Jeffrey Wisch, MD, and Nadine McCleary, MD, MPH, for gastrointestinal medical oncology; Caroline Block, MD, for breast medical oncology; Brad McGregor, MD, for genitourinary oncology; and David Jackman, MD, for thoracic medical oncology.

    Dana-Farber-based leaders include Dana-Farber's chief clinical strategy officer and senior vice president for medical affairs, Eric P. Winer, MD, from breast medical oncology, as well as Rachel Freedman, MD, MPH, medical director of the Dana-Farber Cancer Care Collaborative, David Dougherty, MD, medical director of the Dana-Farber network, and network strategy director Edwin Alyea, MD, from hematologic malignancies and stem cell transplantation.

    These relationships are likely to continue to expand. For example, Dana-Farber has an evolving partnership with the large Grupo Oncoclinicas oncology network in Brazil, and the Institute is discussing partnerships in China, the Middle East, and elsewhere. Patients from afar do not need to travel to Boston to benefit from Dana-Farber specialist opinions; patients can obtain written opinions or teleconsults from Dana-Farber physicians.

    Through all of these close collaborations, Dana-Farber and its partners will continue to elevate the care that patients with cancer receive, both near and far.

  • map of Dana-Farber network and collaborations