Rajni Agarwal, MD, a pediatric oncologist at Stanford University Medical Center’s Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital, says that the Centers of Excellence model is the best approach for the treatment of pediatric cancers. That’s because patients—and their families—need an interdisciplinary approach to care, one that takes into account the clinical needs of patients, and the sociological and psychological needs of the entire family.
Managed Healthcare Executive (MHE) recently interviewed Agarwal, an expert on bone marrow transplants for pediatric cancer, on the benefits of the Centers of Excellence treatment model when caring for children with cancer.
MHE: What are the defining features of the Center of Excellence model?
Agarwal: First, it means the medical center has providers with the appropriate training and experience in that field of treatment. Second, it’s equipped to deal with a particular patient type. For example, not everyone can do bone marrow transplants. You have to have a specific infrastructure to carry out this procedure for the best outcomes.
Third, you have to have really excellent cell-processing and cell-collection facilities and experience doing both. Fourth, you have to have designated sub-specialties, because these patients are complex.
Fifth, providers at the facility really need to treat enough of these patients on an ongoing basis. That means they keep all these skills up.
MHE: Why is the Centers of Excellence model appropriate for the treatment of pediatric cancers?
Agarwal: The expertise needed to treat pediatric cancers should be concentrated in one place.
If you designate Centers of Excellence, these are the facilities that have the ability—because they have all five features mentioned in my response to your first question—to follow the appropriate treatment protocols.