The agreement signed between the Hospital Physiotherapy Institutes (Ifo), the Lazio Region and INPS (National Institute for Social Security) for cancer patients is the first of its kind in Italy and has cut down the time needed to obtain disability benefits by reducing the number of obligatory medical exams from five to only one.
How the new process works
The new disability protocol for cancer patients makes the entire process of obtaining disability benefits for cancer patients much faster as it now requires only 18 months. The first INPS certificate of qualification is issued using a computerized process (INPS guarantees to eliminate paper reports and to computerize the procedure), eliminating obligatory visits to a general practioner and medical examinations by Regional health authorities (ASL) who have now agreed on a more simplified process. Since 2013, this certificate has been available by individual doctors, but was hardly ever used. In fact, it was issued just 1500 times in 2014. For this reason, INPS decided to sign agreements with individual centers of expertise. This certificate allows doctors to procure all elements necessary for the medical examiner’s evaluation of the patient.
Furthermore, the agreement to centralize exams for civil disability status, signed by INPS and the Region of Lazio in December 2017, reduces the number of obligatory medical exams to just one. Instead, in cases where the seriousness of the disease has already been documented, medical approval for the qualification of disability benefits can be reflected in the records through specialized oncological certification issued by the authorized facility, thus eliminating even the INPS medical exam. Finally, the “first certificate” is free of charge. In the past, patients had to see their general practioner first, a visit that costs between EUR 60-100. As a result, all forms of discretion fade away because the procedure is standardized and there cannot be evaluations that are different from the medical-scientific ones already made.
After the agreement is applied in the Region of Lazio, the new agreement may be applied throughout all Italian regions.
Comments from the signees
President of INPS, Tito Boeri, commented on this important breakthrough in claiming disability status for cancer patients. “This agreement regards a very important group of people because 28% of civil disability benefits are granted to cancer patients. Qualification procedures are expedited with less expenses for families and allows them to possible take advantage of Italian Law 104 (which recognizes the right to adequately take care of a disabled family member) at an earlier date. Other regions, such as the Basilicata, Calabria and soon maybe even Campania, have decided to centralize qualification exams at INPS centers. This experience imitates the experiments that have already been successfully carried out in pediatric hospitals”.
“There are many advantages in terms of appropriateness, fairness and equality in the evaluation process as well as realistic expectations on assessment outcomes throughout the entire nation”, said Francesco Ripa di Meana, the president of Ifo.
“A fundamental step in making relations with citizens easier”, explains Nicola Zingaretti, president of the Region of Lazio. “Especially with regards to the journey of a fragile patient, like patients with cancer “.
The new protocol for cancer disability and much more…
The Region of Lazio is also one of the first regions to adopt the “Breast Unit” model to ensure more support for patients with breast cancer. A Breast Unit includes an oncologist, a surgeon, a radiologist, a psychologist and various other figures that accompany the patient throughout their treatments and clinical follow-up. Breast Units have led to an 18% increase in survival rates.
Regarding cancer prevention, the regulation of the cancer register has also been approved and more innovative technological instruments such as “Proton4Life”, one of the largest Italian projects for cancer treatments, have been adopted.
Putting the “patient at the core”
From the patient’s perspective, the fast-track protocol means the patient is no longer subjected to further visits and exams, thus reducing stress, saving time and avoiding physical burdens at a moment in which the patient is certainly more emotionally fragile. Applications to claim disability normally are received soon after the disease is diagnosed.
Domedica is in full agreement with these new policies, especially given our principle of putting the needs of the patient at the core and permitting the creation of a patient support network as soon as possible.
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