Anna Jo Bodurtha Smith, MD, MPH, MSc, discusses why the number of patients with gynecologic cancer that never see a gynecologic oncologist is so high.
Anna Jo Bodurtha Smith, MD, MPH, MSc, third year Gynecologic Oncology fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, fellow at the Penn Center for Cancer Care Innovation and Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, discusses why the number of patients with gynecologic cancer that never see a gynecologic oncologist is so high.
According to Smith, insurance plays a large role in providing care for patients with gynecologic cancers. In the gynecologic oncology space, most patients are 65 and older and have some form of Medicare. However, costs and access to care and/or services can vary based on which Medicare plan one obtains.
Patients who do not have insurance are often faced with lower rates of screening and surveillance for their cancer. These patients may also have delayed follow-up after abnormal results, later stage diagnosis, and delays in obtaining the proper type of care.
0:08 | It is staggeringly high. Every guideline for the last 20-25 years has recommended that if you have [gynecologic] cancer, you see a gynecologic oncologist. For other cancers, we would not say you can just see anybody. You should see a specialist. So why do women's gynecologic cancers end up in that situation?
0:27 | Some of it is insurance issues. There's nobody nearby, there's nobody in your insurance plan, and then we know that because gynecologic oncologists are subspecialists, and there are only around 1000 in the country, patients may struggle to travel to [a gynecologic oncologist]. I think insurers have a lot they could do to improve care and 1 of the things is saying that the standard of care is seeing a gynecologic oncologist and they will help you get there.
1:05 | They should figure out how to have a telemedicine visit with somebody if there's not somebody local, or if the nearest oncologist is far away, figure out how we can physically get you there.