UCI Research Team to Improve Health Disparities Among Ethnic Minority Cancer Patients Using Real-Time Analytics Data

A UCI Research team was recently awarded a grant from the Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association (HOPA) to evaluate the satisfaction of ethnic minority cancer patients’ care from oncology pharmacists at the UCI Health Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The research team led by Alexandre Chan, UCI chair and professor of clinical pharmacy practice, will use an innovative strategy to integrate real-time analytics of patient-reported outcomes into personalized pharmacy education among ethnic minority patients who are newly diagnosed with cancer and undergoing anticancer treatment at the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center located in Orange County, Calif.

The 2019 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report found Asians and Hispanics are routinely experiencing a poorer quality of person-centered care. Studies have also shown that minorities patients with cancer often receive inadequate symptom management. Early recognition of health issues by clinicians is often limited by patients’ underlying poor health literacy, poor communication, and language barriers, which are highly prevalent issues among ethnic minorities.

Chan hopes his research team can engage oncology pharmacists using real-time analytic data to tackle health disparities and improve pharmacists’ early recognition of health issues to increase early interventions. The findings of this study will be the first step in improving health outcomes among ethnic minority cancer patients and illuminating the vital role of oncology pharmacists in a cancer patient’s healthcare team.

The cancer center is located in a majority-minority county: over 35 percent of the population is Hispanic/Latinos, and 21 percent are Asian Americans. Orange County is also home to the largest Vietnamese population in the United States.

“The rich ethnic diversity at the UCI Health Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center makes our cancer center an excellent environment to evaluate interventions to reduce health disparities in ethnic minorities,” Chan said.

Over the next year, the UCI research team will observe the practicality and satisfaction of personalized pharmaceutical care provided by oncology pharmacists. Their primary objective is to improve the understanding of how pharmacists and other providers can optimize cancer care through routine real-time analytics of patient-reporting symptoms in all patients. 

“This study will provide vital evidence to justify the need to increase the integration of oncology pharmacists into regular clinical care and multidisciplinary cancer care teams at UCI,” Chan said. “Giving proactive, supportive care and personalized counseling to all newly diagnosed cancer patients has the potential to reduce unwanted adverse events and hospitalizations and lower healthcare resource utilization.”

The UCI Health Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated comprehensive cancer center in Orange County, California. Designated as “comprehensive” in 1994 and renewed in 2015, the cancer center continues to serve as a vital resource for Orange County and surrounding areas in the fight to alleviate the burden of cancer, integrating world-class research, prevention and the most advanced diagnostics, treatment and rehabilitation programs to provide the best possible care for patients and their families. NCI cancer centers are national leaders in cancer research, education, and treatment. Centers designated as “comprehensive” are at the forefront, signifying that it has met rigorous criteria to provide world-class patient care and innovative research.

Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association (HOPA) is a nonprofit, education-based organization formed in 2004 to help oncology and hematology pharmacy practitioners and their associates with the best possible cancer care. HOPA supports research, provides education, encourages professional development and advocates for health policy issues that improve patient care. HOPA serves more than 3,000 members in oncology pharmacy, pharmacy administration, and research and includes pharmacy residents, interns, and technicians specializing in hematology/oncology practice. HOPA’s mission is to support pharmacy practitioners and promote and advance hematology/oncology pharmacy to optimize the care of individuals affected by cancer.

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