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Patient Care: Introduction

Annual Report - 2006-2007

Making a Difference, One 
Patient at a Time

By Eileen A. Ellig

When patients come to M. D. Anderson, they expect the best in cancer care and receive it. The institution’s physicians, nurses and support staff are committed to providing nothing less than the finest and most innovative treatment plans for every patient, delivered with a dose of compassion.
“I tell our clinical team to keep patients top-of-mind in everything they do, and that discovery isn’t just reserved for laboratory investigators. I stress to them that if you can find a new way to deliver care, a more efficient way to get patients through our clinics or come up with simpler processes — those are all discoveries, and they’ll ultimately result in better care, outcomes and patient satisfaction,” says Thomas Burke, M.D., executive vice president and physician-in-chief at M. D. Anderson.

Burke’s team, in collaboration with others throughout the institution, has been identifying opportunities to enhance the quality, efficiency and safety of M. D. Anderson’s clinical care programs and services while also addressing capacity issues.

One venue for discovery, Burke notes, is the Clinical Safety and Effectiveness Course, which provides clinicians and administrators with the skills and knowledge needed to develop quality and process improvement programs, and to establish best practices. More than 200 people have gone through the program, with 89 graduating in 2007.

The idea to join anesthesiology, nursing and surgery under one administration is an example of ongoing initiatives that integrate the delivery of cancer care.

Formed last year, the Perioperative Enterprise provides better coordination of care and a framework that supports having the safest operating rooms in the world, Burke says. This multidisciplinary team performs more than 15,000 surgical cases each year in more than 30 operating rooms.

The University of Texas System Board of Regents approval to expand the Albert B. and Margaret M. Alkek Hospital by adding eight inpatient floors was a big step forward in addressing the growth in patient demand for clinical services, Burke says. The rate of clinical activity has been increasing steadily by 5% to 6% annually in recent years. In 2007 alone, more than 22,000 hospital admissions were recorded and nearly 85,000 patients were treated at M. D. Anderson.

The hospital addition will increase the number of inpatient beds to approximately 867, an increase of 69%, and expand operating rooms and clinical support units.

In another effort to effectively manage growth, while at the same time ensuring patients receive the M. D. Anderson standard of highest-quality care, “we are extending our services outside the ‘mothership’ — into the greater Houston area and beyond,” Burke says.

Currently, four suburban facilities provide comprehensive radiation therapy, using the latest technology in radiation treatment planning and delivery. “We’re beginning to grow our satellite program both in number of locations and services provided,” says Burke, noting the opening of the M. D. Anderson Clinical Care Center in the Bay Area last year. Located about 30 miles southeast of Houston, the center provides medical oncology, chemotherapy, laboratory, pharmacy and blood donor services in addition to radiation oncology. “Further expansion of these types of operations will be developed by our new Global Oncology initiative,” Burke says.

Back on the main campus, M. D. Anderson clinicians continued to strengthen and grow the institution’s clinical trials program and strategic alliances with pharmaceutical companies to help eliminate delays between federal approval to explore investigational drugs and the start of Phase I trials – all with the intent of safely bringing new cancer drugs to patients faster.

In 2007, more than 11,000 patients participated in one of the 1,064 active protocols evaluating potential new therapies for cancer. In many of these trials, lead investigators have reported early responses to novel drugs and vaccines in patients with leukemia and some solid tumors.

M. D. Anderson investigators have helped to validate the efficacy of dozens of targeted agents over the past five years and have participated in the approval of 18 drugs by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. At least six of those drugs were tested in pivotal trials conducted at M. D. Anderson.

Whether it’s helping to bring new drugs to market or establishing new standards in patient care, the M. D. Anderson team continues to make a difference in the lives of cancer patients worldwide.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center