145,000 new cancer cases are estimated to be diagnosed in Australia in 2020 and it is predicted there will be just under 50,000 deaths from cancer. As cancer incidence continues to rise there is a pressing need to find new, innovative ways to deliver more care to more people.
Icon Group, Australia’s largest dedicated cancer care provider delivers cutting-edge cancer treatments via a network of 30 cancer centres nationwide. Icon does this via strong multidisciplinary teams delivering care across each centre, supported by robust remote functions including radiation therapy planning, medical physics and national clinical training and education to establish tertiary level services beyond metropolitan areas.
Icon operates a unique, state-of-the-art remote radiation therapy planning arm of highly skilled radiation therapists and dosimetrists who specialise in delivering complex radiation therapy plans for cancer patients. Creating highly complex plans requires specialised training with skilled talent often difficult to secure outside of capital cities. A remote approach to radiation planning removes this barrier and allows Icon’s network to deliver both high-quality and efficient care across regional Australia and internationally. It also enables efficiencies through relieving heavy patient loads and staff shortages, as well as the ability to upskill local teams through remote training and support.
Alongside remote planning Icon’s internationally recognised team of medical physicists are able to support centres nationally through a fully integrated clinical system. Medical physicists are critical to the delivery of safe and accurate radiation therapy and play a pivotal role in the quality and evolution of radiation therapy treatments and techniques. Icon’s physics team have been at the forefront of rolling out the most advanced radiation therapy techniques and have successfully installed stereotactic radiation therapy across Icon’s fleet no matter where the centre is located – a cutting-edge technique delivering improved patient outcomes. They have been able to do this through an innovative remote approach to commissioning new treatments, which means resources don’t always need to be onsite to bring complex treatments to areas where they aren’t currently available. The national medical physics team also have the capability to remotely log in to any Icon centre in Australia to help troubleshoot machine breakdowns and deliver ongoing training and education to radiation therapists on the ground. The result is a fleet of linacs with an exceptional record in ‘up-time’ or treatment availability.
Further to pushing the boundaries of technology Icon has been collaborating with Varian Medical Systems on an Augmented Reality (AR) trial at the Icon Cancer Centre in Cairns. This trial is designed to provide remote technical and clinical support to improve safety, reduce time to make treatment machine repairs, and immediately respond to any issues without the need to be on-site. It also has significant benefits in filling the gaps where there may be a shortage of skilled professionals on-site. The use of AR is another innovative solution that has long-lasting benefits for cancer patients with the ability to reduce patient treatment interruptions and continuously deliver quality, safe and accurate treatments in any cancer centre from metropolitan locations to regional and remote communities.
Icon also recognises the importance of innovation in design and training strategies in order to facilitate and appropriately skilled clinical team. A global education and training team led by experts in medical physics, oncology nursing, radiation therapy, medical oncology and haematology deliver a centralised educational framework across all disciplines driven by best practice and evidence-based principles. Icon can deliver this training remotely via tele-education and real time devices which mimic face-to-face training and has been built to ensure flexibility and accessibility regardless of location. This training program creates a highly skilled care team able to confidently deliver the best possible cancer care anywhere in the world.
A cancer patient living in a regional community should not be denied access to life-saving treatments. Icon are consistently looking for new ways to provide more care to more people closer to where they live. This is achieved through a combination of experienced clinical teams delivering patient care on the ground, supported by intelligent remote solutions that allow an elevated level of care anywhere in the world. Remote solutions are helping to move cancer care forward and take us one step closer to a world less burdened by cancer.