Kamal Receives 2014 Sojourns Award

September 9, 2014
By: Karen E. Butler, Director of Communications, DCI

The Duke Cancer Center palliative care team. Pictured from left to right: Arif Kamal, M.D., director of quality outcomes with the Duke Cancer Institute; Mark Waters, M.P.H., A.N.P.-B.C., A.C.H.P.N., Center for Palliative Care; and R. Morgan Bain, M.D., medical director for Duke Outpatient Palliative Care. The Duke QDACT team is made up of clinicians, software developers, informatics specialists, graphic designers, business specialists and academic researchers. Led by Amy Abernethy, M.D., director for the Center for Learning Health Care and director of the Duke Cancer Care Research Program, the team focuses on data systems, technology development, health policy, patient reported outcomes, and patient-centered care.The Duke Cancer Center palliative care team. Pictured from left to right: Arif Kamal, M.D., director of quality outcomes with the Duke Cancer Institute; Mark Waters, M.P.H., A.N.P.-B.C., A.C.H.P.N., Center for Palliative Care; and R. Morgan Bain, M.D., medical director for Duke Outpatient Palliative Care. The Duke QDACT team is made up of clinicians, software developers, informatics specialists, graphic designers, business specialists and academic researchers. Led by Amy Abernethy, M.D., director for the Center for Learning Health Care and director of the Duke Cancer Care Research Program, the team focuses on data systems, technology development, health policy, patient reported outcomes, and patient-centered care.

In August, the Cambia Health Foundation announced that Arif Kamal, M.D., medical oncologist and palliative medicine specialist with the Duke Cancer Institute, is one of 10 recipients to receive the 2014 Sojourns Scholar, a new scholarship program designed to identify, cultivate and advance the next generation of palliative care leaders.

Kamal is being recognized for his leadership role in the development of an innovative web-based quality data collection tool (QDACT) which resulted from a partnership with the Carolinas Palliative Care Database Consortium, a consortium formed in 2007 between Duke and four other community palliative care organizations. After its launch, the consortium developed a paper-based form to determine the kind of care being provided within the community. With Kamal’s leadership, the paper-based form eventually evolved into QDACT, an online electronic platform.

Prior to QDACT physicians relied on retrospective chart abstraction for quality assessment. These strategies were time-consuming and oftentimes, fraught with errors. Clinicians are now using the QDACT iPad tool to track quality and outcomes in palliative care. The tracking provides real-time feedback and highlights areas of concern. The QDACT provides virtually instant feedback for better clinical decision-making.

“After hard fought battle with breast cancer, I was at my mother’s side as she journeyed her way thought palliative care, and then hospice,” said Dr. Kamal, who in July received the 2014 Innovator Award from the Association of Community Cancer Centers. “Initially, I had planned to work to find a cure for breast cancer. However, that experience propelled me into another direction, palliative care. I have dedicated my career to understanding how palliative care can continuously evolve to ensure that patients with serious illness receive care that is high quality, patient-centered and able to produce the outcomes that are most important to them. This award will advance my research.”[expand title="Read more"]

To continue his research in palliative care, Kamal will receive an $180,000 grant from the Sojourns Scholar Leadership Program. He will be recognized at the Sojourns Awards & Palliative Care Summit, which will be held Thursday, Oct. 2, at the Sentinel Hotel in Portland, Oregon.

“We created the Sojourns Scholar Leadership Program to recognize and support future innovators and leaders in the field of palliative care, the outstanding doctors and nurses who are really making a difference for patients and families,” said Peggy Maguire, president and board chair of the Cambia Health Foundation. “These award recipients are already actively working to advance the field of palliative care, and we hope that our investment will allow them to become the next generation of leaders who will help to improve quality, access and understanding at a crucial time in our nation’s healthcare landscape.”

Founded in 2007, Cambia Health Foundation awards grants in three program areas: palliative and end-of-life care through the foundation’s signature program, Sojourns; Transforming Health Care; and Children’s Health. Since its inception the foundation has funded more than $10 million in grants to support these causes. Through Sojourns, Cambia Health Foundation strives to advance patient- and family-centered care that optimizes quality of life by anticipating, preventing and treating suffering. To learn about Cambial Health Foundation and its Sojourns Award program, visit www.cambiahealthfoundation.org.

For more information on Cambia Health Foundation and the Sojourns Scholar Leadership Program, visit www.cambiahealthfoundation.org. For more information on QDACT, visit the team’s newly launched website, qdact.org.

Tracy Brewington, 20, updates her palliative care specialist, Morgan Bain, M.D., on her symptoms. Brewington was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiform when she was 15 years old.

At a recent visit to the Duke Cancer Center, R. Morgan Bain, MD, FAAHPM, medical director for Duke Outpatient Palliative Care, employs the QDACT tool to assess and care for his patient,

Tracy Renee Brewington, of Fayetteville. Brewington, 20, was diagnosed in 2009 with glioblastoma multiforme. Using QDACT, an innovative web-based data collection tool, Bain is able to track Brewington’s progress over time, highlight areas not already addressed and document vital information as it pertains specifically to her ongoing care.

“I find that the symptom assessment questions are very helpful when first meeting a new patient, Bain said. “It guides me to the areas that are most distressing and serves to frame the landscape of my patients’ care. Over time, we can track the values and see if our interventions are making an impact.”

Effective palliative care is of the utmost importance to Brewington and her family. Brewington, who has undergone four surgeries and two rounds of radiation and also chemotherapy without going into remission, decided at the start of summer to forego any additional chemotherapy treatments.

“Preserving Tracy’s quality of life is vital,” said Brewington’s mother, Lisa. “My daughter is tough; she’s my hero."

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