Leadership in Cancer series (Part 2): Health equity in cancer care - comprehensive tools & resources

Jul 2, 2022 | Kanaaz Pereira, Connect Moderator | @kanaazpereira

As Mayo Clinic serves more patients across the globe, it is becoming clear that the needs of patients are diverse and individualized.

Supporting health equity for diverse communities is near the heart of Dr. Willman. In Dr. Willman's new role as the executive director of Mayo Clinic Cancer Programs and director of Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center, she aims to build on this momentum and ensure that Mayo Clinic's cancer resources are accessible for patients of all backgrounds.

Dr. Willman leads one of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) cancer genome sequencing centers. Through partnership and collaboration with Tribal nations and Hispanic communities in the American Southwest, Dr. Willman's team is focused on discovering the genomic, environmental, and behavioral mechanisms underlying cancers that disproportionately affect patients of American Indian ancestry and Hispanic descent.

This project improves patient lives through community involvement and real-time return of clinical genomic sequencing results to patients. "There is a growing awareness in our culture and our society that we have to find ways to disseminate outstanding cancer care to everyone," says Dr. Willman. "That starts by deeply engaging our communities."

Dr. Willman sees one Mayo Clinic program as a key factor in creating this engagement. Patient navigators are essentially a patient's point of contact for everyone on the integrated disease-group cancer team. As members of the communities that they serve, patient navigators help improve communication and trust with patients by developing personal relationships and providing individual assistance to navigate cancer care.

Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center's patient navigators are critical to supporting patients by addressing their social determinants of health concerns. They assist patients with:

  • Emotional support
  • Employment concerns
  • Financial assistance options
  • Insurance concerns
  • Local community resources
  • Lodging options
  • Navigating locations
  • Transportation options

Culturally specific patient navigators also are available to support patients with specific cultural or linguistic concerns throughout their journey with cancer care. Learn more about Dr. Willman's background and the data and innovations that will guide this work in parts one and three of the Leadership in Cancer series.

Interested in more newsfeed posts like this? Go to the Health Equity Research blog.

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