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Management science guru, surviving cancer, offers hope to fellow sufferers, doctors
Date:11/1/2010

h cancer, and lived to write The Patient from Hell, a book about his experiences and his recommendations for improving the cancer care system. In addition to advising patients to have an "advocate," Schneider's book recommends that doctors and hospitals use more management science thinking and tools, and do a better job of communicating probabilities.

When Barrager presented these ideas to his doctors, they responded that bringing in management science thinking and tools would present a host of challenges: doctors are trained as scientists, not engineers. Doctors are restricted by insurance regulations and other system constraints. Patients themselves vary in their ability to process this different way of deciding.

So Barrager went back to the drawing board and modified his friend's recommendations. He came up with his own unique adaptation, which features two concepts: the "Cancer Quarterback" and the "Decision Coach."

The Cancer Quarterback's role is to help the patient stay healthy within the constraints of the medical system; confer with specialists; help patients learn more about their disease; and communicate with a Decision Coach.

The Decision Coach's job is to help the Cancer Quarterback by structuring decisions; gathering and processing treatment information; doing analysis of potential treatments; and collaborating with fellow coaches.

In his case, Barrager's family doctor served as his Cancer Quarterback. Barrager, a trained management scientist, served as his own Decision Coach. He obtained information that let him assess the probable success of each possible treatment.

Almost four years later, the collaboration between Cancer Quarterback and Decision Coach seems to be working: Stephen Barrager's rare and raging, blood-based cancer is currently under control.

Dr. Barrager is now beginning to advocate that many more cancer patients be provided with a Cancer Quarterback and Decision Coac
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Contact: Barry List
barry.list@informs.org
443-757-3560
Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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