On Cancer Moonshot Anniversary, White House Unveils Patient Navigation Plans

The White House announcement focuses on promoting patient navigation, community-based healthcare access, and the cancer patient and caregiver experience.

On the one-year anniversary of the Cancer Moonshot’s renewal, President Joe Biden has announced plans to support patient navigation, community health, and the cancer patient experience.

The White House has unveiled a partnership with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to bring patient navigation services to families facing pediatric cancer; $10 million in Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) funding for community-based cancer screening; and “CancerX,” an HHS and ONC effort to give community health groups the technology necessary to meet cancer patients within the community.

The NCI partnership will focus on bringing clinical and navigation support to pediatric patients and adolescents and young adults (AYA) with cancer through the Childhood Cancer – Data Integration for Research, Education, Care, and Clinical Trials (CC-DIRECT). In addition to helping connect patients to clinical care, the program will promote access to patient navigation services and support patient data access.

“This means families facing childhood cancer can reach out for support and get connected to excellent care and the opportunity to participate in research through clinical trials and data sharing initiatives,” the White House said in a fact sheet.

The HRSA funding, which will benefit 22 HRSA-funded health centers, will aim to support community-based cancer prevention and detection. HRSA-funded community health centers will connect with NCI-Designated Cancer Centers to help patients gain access to cancer detection services.

Health centers will also be charged with conducting patient outreach and education. Patient engagement efforts will focus on cancer detection, patient access to cancer screening, and patient navigation should an individual need access to cancer care and treatment.

CancerX, a public-private partnership out of HHS, ONC, and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH), will develop tools that support cancer care coordination. These health IT investments will particularly focus on care coordination, patient navigation, and helping patients manage their post-treatment care.

The CancerX will work like a health technology accelerator program, benefitting health technology companies focused on supporting the cancer patient journey and promoting health equity.

The White House also announced numerous efforts from both the public and private sectors focused on cancer prevention, patient and caregiver experience support, and cancer screening.

This announcement comes one year following Biden reignited his Cancer Moonshot, an initiative first started during his vice presidency and promising a 21st Century Cures approach to cancer care.

“The Cancer Moonshot has spurred tremendous action across the federal government and from the public and private sectors, building a strong foundation for the work ahead,” the White House said in its bulletin.

Last year’s Cancer Moonshot renewal included the unveiling of the Cancer Cabinet, a convening of federal, individual, and healthcare stakeholders to develop action plans across four focus areas: cancer screening care gaps, understanding of environmental exposure, lessening the impact of preventable cancers, and using community resources to bring cancer research to all patients.

The White House said the Cancer Cabinet has brought to fruition more than 50 community events and spurred over 60 private companies, non-profits, academic institutions, and patient advocacy groups to announce new actions fighting cancer.

This announcement comes as the healthcare industry grapples with a care gaps problem. During the COVID-19 pandemic, patients stopped accessing primary and preventive healthcare, meaning many went without cancer screenings.

In June 2022, the American Cancer Society posted figures showing that cancer screenings dropped 80 percent in March and April of 2020, the early days of the pandemic.

The US is still working to close those care gaps, with a keen eye on traditionally marginalized populations. Community-based care, another facet of the White House’s plan, will be essential to helping close cancer screening gaps among underserved groups.

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