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I am happy to introduce the Journal of Oncology Practice(JOP) to ASCO members. As you know, recent significant changes and challenges posed by the U.S. national infrastructure for health care have a substantial effect on the practice of oncology. It is no coincidence, therefore, that the launch of the JOP comes at a time when oncologists are looking critically at ways to continue improving quality of care while evaluating practice structure, reimbursement, and the myriad of regulations affecting the delivery of cancer care.
In addition to featuring practice management as one of the key content areas for the JOP, ASCO has recognized its responsibility as an organization to help meet the needs of practicing oncologists during this time of complexity. ASCO brought practice management to the top of its list of priorities by making “cancer care and clinical practice management” their number 1 goal of the 2004—2007 ASCO Strategic Plan. The JOP has been developed in support of that goal.
The defined purpose of the JOP is to “provide practicing oncologists as well as other practice leaders with timely news, information, and tools that are critical to running a practice efficiently, in a perpetually changing environment, while promoting a high standard for patient care.” Included as well is information on political developments affecting cancer care from a practical standpoint, on efforts to enhance the quality of care for patients, on strategies to improve access to clinical trials, and on ways to address the personal management of issues facing oncologists in the workforce.
The importance of a vehicle to disseminate information on these topics is evidenced by the results of an ASCO survey conducted last year. Of 12 ASCO activities or services included in the survey, practice management and reimbursement guidance was ranked fourth in importance overall (following the ASCO Annual Meeting, clinical trial programs, and other meetings and conferences). In addition, respondents highly ranked print and online publications as the preferred method for receiving information on a topic of interest.
The JOP is thus an ideal complement to the existing family of ASCO's practice and reimbursement products and services. This core includes a hotline for specific questions from physicians and their staff on CPT and ICD-9 coding; Medicare billing rules and coverage; and regulatory provisions, including health information privacy and occupational safety and health. ASCO also maintains a Web site of local coverage decisions to assist Medicare Carrier Advisory Committee representatives and other ASCO members with comparison and analysis of policy on a carrier-by-carrier or state-by-state basis. In addition, the Society has developed such valuable educational resources as Practical Tips for the Practicing Oncologist, currently in its third edition, and a practice management curriculum designed to be presented at workshops to assist practices with adapting to recent changes in Medicare, generating practice efficiencies, and considering service line expansion. Lastly, ASCO publishes regular brief updates on coding, billing, reimbursement, and related regulations in ASCO News, MMA Today, and Policy Watch, as well as on the ASCO Web site. If you have not taken advantage of these important resources, I encourage you to do so.
With Dr. Douglas W. Blayney at the helm as editor, the JOP is well positioned to fulfill ASCO′s commitment to meeting the professional needs of practicing oncologists. I thank the ASCO Board of Directors and leadership from the Clinical Practice Committee, who have been involved with this journal from conception to publication, as well as with the appointment of Dr. Blayney. They join me in hoping that you find the JOP to be a valuable resource in remaining up-to-date on critical issues facing practicing oncologists today.