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Anthem Blue Cross helps cancer survivors with new computer-based tool

Cancer patients and doctors aren't always on the same page when it comes to cancer survivorship. But now - thanks to Journey Forward, a collaboration between WellPoint (the parent company of Anthem Blue Cross), the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS), the UCLA Cancer Survivorship Center and Genentech - there's an innovative new tool that can benefit anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer.

At the center of the Journey Forward collaboration is a new computer-based tool that enables anyone diagnosed with any type of cancer to have their medical history, cancer treatment summary and a post-treatment survivorship care plan captured in one place. Thanks to the collaboration, Anthem Blue Cross is able to make this tool available to its members and providers. These plans improve coordination of care for cancer survivors throughout their lives, and they help survivors and their loved ones understand their cancer treatment and follow-up needs. Survivorship Care Plans also put survivors in a better position to advocate for themselves, monitor their health, and participate in decisions about their future care.

"Journey Forward is a powerful example of how collaboration amongst health benefit plans, academic institutions, pharmaceutical companies, national patient care coalitions and physicians can address one of the most important areas of medicine -- cancer care with a focus on the Journey Forward for individuals with cancer," said Dr. Sam Nussbaum, executive vice president and Chief Medical Officer of WellPoint.

Dr. Tracey Weisberg, who specializes in breast cancer at the Maine Center for Cancer Medicine, says Journey Forward gets patients to be active in their care.

"Journey Forward's Survivorship Care Plan computer tool is simple, and all the information is there," said Weisberg. "There's nothing better out there to achieve what is becoming a standard of care that needs to be met."

The Journey Forward program was created in response to recommendations by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), which concluded in a November 2005 report on adult cancer survivorship that there is currently no system of coordinated follow-up care for cancer survivors in the United States. The report says many cancer survivors are "lost in transition" from active treatment to survivorship, with few clues about how to manage their follow-up care and the physical and mental health problems that may result from their treatment.

"There is a critical need for cancer patients to be informed and empowered about their care before, during and after cancer treatment," said Thomas P. Sellers, MPA, President & CEO of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship and a 10-year cancer survivor. "Journey Forward helps all parties involved by encouraging an open dialogue between doctors and patients and by providing a customized way to coordinate care."

For more information about Journey Forward, go to www.journeyforward.org.

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