The 2018 Summit theme “Working Together” sums up what this annual gathering of neuroendocrine expert physicians, researchers, scientists, and nurse/nurse practitioners has evolved to over the course of three years. From debate sessions in 2016 to identifying unmet needs in 2017, this forum that brings together professionals from the U. S. and Europe has worked well together from the very beginning.
This context of collaboration allows topics to be discussed that are not easy ones. Two challenging topics that represent the provider side of “Healing NET” were among those tackled in breakout sessions this year based on findings in prior years: Advanced Neuroendocrine Centers and NET Boot Camp.
Advanced Neuroendocrine Centers—The European “Center of Excellence” model has been viewed as difficult to translate to the United States with our very different health care systems. Dr. Kjell Oberg of Sweden (former Chair of the European Neuroendocrine Tumor Society) gave U.S. NET experts an in-depth view of what is a rigorous and audited set of standards. The standards include a NET tumor board, a multi-disciplinary team with strength in multiple specialties, a minimum number of patients that must be treated per year, etc., all of which create extensive costs for the centers. However, the time and money invested will theoretically be offset by attracting more patients, who will be assured of a certain level of NET expertise and comprehensive care. There are challenges over and above meeting the standards—concern was expressed about the potential impact of payers, for example. One recommendation by the group was for Healing NET to conduct a survey of Summit attendees regarding readiness for the designation based on the ENETS ten core criteria so participants can determine what would still be needed for compliance. This would also give a sense of the landscape that already exists. It is a recommendation the Healing NET Scientific Advisory Committee, which includes physicians present at the Summit, will be working on this summer.
NET Boot Camp—This group determined that the idea of offering “boot camps” to immerse residents and fellows in neuroendocrine and to attract new people to this field could be expanded even further. The group imagined the audience for this kind of intensive short program might include physicians and advanced practice providers/allied health professionals new to the field, as well as nurses and nurse practitioners, attracted by the challenge of working with the complexities of neuroendocrine cancer. Beneficial outcomes of the program could include attracting potential sub-specialists, developing mentorship and collaboration, and building a network of expertise to benefit patients. Feedback from the group at large was very positive, with 94% of attendees saying they would be able to nominate a person to attend each year. The Healing NET Foundation Scientific Advisory Committee and a special task force of attendees from this Summit will be working on this recommendation as well.