News Release: Emory Healthcare , School of Medicine , Winship Cancer Institute

Aug. 19,  2011

Winship Cancer Institute and Northside Hospital Receive Breast Cancer Disparities Grant

Grant Is Part of $500,000 Awarded to Reduce Disparities in Breast Cancer Care

News Article ImageWinship Cancer Institute

ATLANTA – The American Cancer Society’s South Atlantic Division has awarded a grant of $96,009 to Northside Hospital for a pilot program, aimed at improving the quality of care for breast cancer patients.

“For years, Northside Hospital has been on the forefront in the fight against cancer.  In the last year alone, we saw significant growth in volume of breast cancer patients,” says Patti Owen, director of oncology services at Northside Hospital.  “With this grant from the American Cancer Society, in collaboration with the Winship Cancer Institute, we hope to continue to increase access to care for breast cancer patients and improve the quality of care that they receive.”

The goal of the grant is to eliminate barriers to effective breast cancer care by combining patient navigation with an innovative patient management data base called the Rapid Quality Reporting System (RQRS).  RQRS is designed to promote evidence-based cancer care at the local level.  By offering a web-based data collection and reporting system that interfaces with the hospital’s own cancer registry operations, RQRS provides Northside’s patient navigators with near real-time information on their breast cancer patients.  By forwarding RQRS alerts directly to the navigators, Northside staff can more effectively assist patients who are experiencing delays to treatment or other barriers to care.

The grant also will facilitate collaboration between Northside Hospital, which is a National Cancer Institute Community Cancer Centers Program (NCCCP) site, and the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, Georgia’s only NCI-designated cancer center. 

“RQRS is an innovative, database mechanism that links hospital staff with individual patients who are at risk of ‘falling thru the cracks’ or experiencing treatment delays that decrease the quality of care received,” says Theresa Gillespie, PhD, associate professor of surgical oncology at Winship and the grant’s principal investigator.  “This pilot represents a new and important collaboration between two NCI-funded centers.  The grant effectively merges our strong interests in and commitment to reducing cancer health disparities, particularly for breast cancer patients.”

Developed by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer (CoC), RQRS is now being tested under real-world practice conditions in about 65 CoC-approved cancer programs nationwide, including 30 in the state of Georgia.  RQRS is soon to become a fully integrated feature of the National Cancer Data Base, to which Northside and all other CoC-approved facilities already report patient-level data.  The linchpin difference with RQRS is that for patients being followed under this new mechanism, key data are submitted shortly after diagnosis and updated regularly over time to provide a near real-time picture of the care received, compared with guideline standards.

“RQRS can become a vital tool for helping cancer centers and policy makers at the state and national levels monitor and improve the quality of care,” says Joseph Lipscomb, PhD, professor of health policy and management at the Rollins School of Public Health, associate director for population sciences at Winship, and a co-investigator on the grant.  Lipscomb has been working with colleagues throughout Georgia and the United States to encourage adoption and innovative application of RQRS.

“The American Cancer Society is pleased to award this grant to Northside Hospital, which diagnoses and treats more breast cancer patients every year in the Southeast than any other hospital,” said Patricia Hoge, the South Atlantic Division Executive Vice President of Mission Delivery Medical Affairs.  “The Society is committed to reducing disparities in breast cancer care and to ensuring that every woman, regardless of socio-economic position, has access to screening, early detection and regular treatment.  We believe these grants will go a long way toward achieving that goal.”

About the American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end suffering from cancer.  As a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community.  We save lives by helping people stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early; helping people get well by being there for them during and after a cancer diagnosis; by finding cures through investment in groundbreaking discovery; and by fighting back by rallying lawmakers to pass laws to defeat cancer and by rallying communities worldwide to join the fight. As the nation’s largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing about $3.4 billion, we turn what we know about cancer into what we do.  As a result, more than 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year.  To learn more about us or to get help, call us any time, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit

About Northside Hospital

The Northside Hospital health care delivery system is a not-for-profit health care provider and has served north Metro Atlanta for 40 years.  With more than 2,000 physicians and 6,000 employees, the hospital sees nearly 700,000 patient visits a year.  Staffs provide a full range of health care services, including women’s health, cancer care, emergency care, surgery, specialty medicine and a wide array of outpatient services at many locations.  Northside Hospital offers high-quality health care at Northside Hospital-Atlanta in Sandy Springs, Northside Hospital-Cherokee in Canton and Northside Hospital-Forsyth in Cumming.  For more information, visit

About Winship Cancer Institute

As Georgia’s first and only National Cancer Institute Designated Cancer Center, the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University serves as the coordinating center for a vast array of resources in medical oncology, surgical oncology, radiation oncology, diagnostic imaging, and the subspecialties of cancer care throughout Emory University.

Recognized as one of the top 50 cancer centers in the United States by U.S. News and World Report, Winship has also earned the Blue Cross Blue Shield Designation for Treatment of Rare and Complex Cancers.  To learn more about the Winship Cancer Institute, its research, outreach, clinical trials, and faculty and staff, visit


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service.

Learn more about Emory’s health sciences:
Twitter: @emoryhealthsci

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