Cancer Treatment Centers of America: Leading the Way in Cancer Care

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Gerard-Van-Grinsven-thumbThe Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) is a leader in innovative, groundbreaking cancer care and is setting the stage for what patients can expect from a cancer center.

With the health-care industry moving toward pay-for-performance and a greater focus on patient satisfaction, Gerard van Grinsven, the newly appointed president and chief executive officer of CTCA, has been charged with moving the organization into the next generation of holistic cancer care.

Bringing comfort into cancer care

Since its founding in 1988, CTCA has followed what is called the Mother Standard®, which asks, “If your mother had cancer, how would you want her to be treated?”

Treatment teams are expected to apply this principle to all patients in all aspects of their care. CTCA has five hospitals throughout the country and treats more than 125 cancer types. The organization overall has a 91 percent patient-satisfaction/loyalty score.

In July 2013, CTCA brought on van Grinsven as president and CEO. Before his career turned toward health care, van Grinsven spent 25 years in the luxury-hotel industry. He worked in Asia to help open some of the foremost hotels in the world.

From there, van Grinsven made the move to health care and served as president and CEO of Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital in West Bloomfield, Mich., from June 2006 to 2013.

Now, he is bringing his experiences and expertise to patient care.

“Having a background in hospitality taught me what true service is about,” he said. “You are not just delivering a product, you are also emotionally connecting with customers. They want to come back to you because you genuinely care for them.”

When he was approached about joining CTCA, van Grinsven had recently lost his father to cancer, giving him a personal mission to want to transform the way care is provided.

“I feel that health care has moved too much to sick care,” he said. “If you come to a hospital or clinic, you need more care and comfort than any six-star deluxe hotel. At CTCA, with an extraordinary team of clinicians, we can create an experience for patients that is foremost about clinical excellence and patient safety, but also emotionally connects with patients, caregivers, and loved ones. We address their worries, fears, insecurities, answer their questions about what this means for their personal life or professional life.”

At the outset, van Grinsven visited all five hospital sites, talking with physicians, staff, and patients to understand their needs. His initial goals include finding ways to create more access for patients, advancing the clinical mission of being the cancer-care provider of choice, and furthering the patient care experience.

The patient experience is not the only area van Grinsven is planning to focus his efforts; he is also dedicated to making sure the physician and employee experience is exceptional.

“You can only take an organization to the next level of excellence if you truly embrace and respect your workforce,” he said. “You have to create a culture where you treat people with trust, respect, and dignity and involve them in decision-making. If you surprise and delight your employees and stakeholders, they will do the same for our patients and their loved ones.”

Advancing cancer care through research and access

CTCA sites participate in and help fund cancer research and partner with other organizations to obtain the latest treatments for its patients. The organization mostly focuses on translational research, which generally refers to science that moves quickly from “bench to bedside.”

“We are early adopters of research,” van Grinsven said. “Once we see positive results and have information from studies, we want to quickly bring those treatment options to patients. We seek opportunities to break the silos that are all too common in health care for the benefit of our patients.”

Making sure care is accessible to patients is another element of providing quality care. Earlier in 2013, a CTCA hospital partnered with Blue Cross Blue Shield in the state of Illinois to become an in-network hospital, allowing many more patients access to its care. Van Grinsven said the organization welcomes more partnerships like this.

Van Grinsven’s ideas and the CTCA structure are in line with where health care is going. With reform, van Grinsven thinks the organization is creating an environment where patients are more educated, with more information available to them about where they can receive the highest quality care and patient satisfaction.

“We are proud to share our patient-satisfaction scores and quality indicators with patients,” he said. “I hope that all organizations are willing to be inspired by each other and learn from each other to create an extraordinary experience for everyone who comes through their doors.”

Health-care reform is also heading in a direction that demands the provision of greater wellness care, and van Grinsven said another goal is to find additional ways in which the organization can help the communities it serves.

“We need to be more involved in teaching people how they can change their lifestyles and live healthier,” he said. “We should not be just treatment centers, but also prevention centers. We are all motivated to find a cure for cancer, but we should also help our communities learn ways to minimize their risk.”

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