This article appears in the July/August 2014 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.
The National Cancer Institute designates 41 U.S. hospitals as comprehensive cancer centers, with each required to demonstrate excellence in laboratory, clinical, behavioral, and population-based research, and to set high standards for outreach and education. This puts the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center in the same category as the Mayo Clinic, M.D. Anderson, and other leading cancer centers.
What makes the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center stand out is its mission to provide cancer care across the state, from rural areas to the thriving Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill metropolitan area. The flagship N.C. Cancer Hospital treats patients from every county in the state, with more than 135,000 patient visits a year. UNC physicians treat all cancers and participate in more than 225 cancer clinical trials.
Like many health systems looking to grow their footprint following healthcare reform, UNC Health Care has merged with or acquired other hospitals in the state, including High Point Regional Health System in 2013. UNC Health Care has everything from a state-of-the-art academic cancer hospital to a critical access hospital. Cancer care across different UNC Health Care facilities is delivered by a mix of faculty physicians, employed physicians, and independent oncologists. Even with this range of facilities and expertise, the goal is the same, says Ian Buchanan, MD, vice president for cancer and children's services for UNC Health Care.
"We are really spending a lot of time thinking about and planning how to link together our oncology services to provide seamless cancer care for people across the UNC Health Care system," Buchanan says. "Our goal in the next few years is to be able to say with confidence that if somebody goes to one of our affiliated hospitals that's 150 miles from here, they're going to get 'UNC cancer care' even if they're in a different location."