Community Oncology Conference: Fueling the Cancer Moonshot

Community Oncology Conference 2017

The recent meeting of the Community Oncology Alliance was a two day event that covered topics impacting community oncology practices including treatment advances, practice innovations and payment reform models. The sessions were packed with providers, patient advocates and other stakeholders very interested in learning from each other and sharing their experiences. A panel discussion titled “Orals Adherence & Challenges” was standing room only and the Oncology Care Model was referred to repeatedly.

Community clinics are dealing with the same challenges of delivering high quality care in an increasingly complicated landscape. With a growing number of patients receiving complex oral chemotherapy treatment regimens, big changes in reimbursement models and increasing competition from hospitals among the challenges, these providers face mounting pressures and are working hard to innovate and stay viable.

In a panel discussion titled, “Early Learnings from the OCM” Alti Rahman of Oncology Consultants and Anne Marie Rainey of Clearview Cancer Institute shared what they’ve experienced in this first year participating in the Oncology Care Model.

CMS’s experimental new payment model aimed is at improving care coordination while lowering costs, but also sets a high bar for care delivery and reporting. Alti pointed to communication as the starting place for implementing the program. Instead of just thinking about OCM, his practice looked at quality care initiatives as a whole to create a workflow that enables better care in a value-based model. He also created two teams – one focused on clinic operations and another focused on reporting so that they would be adequately prepared for the program. That has helped them ensure they have the tools in place to report on new processes and workflows.

At Clearview, Anne Marie described their efforts at continuous improvement – they evaluate on an ongoing basis and make adjustments as needed. Both panelists emphasized how important it is that the whole team understands why changes to the delivery model are important and necessary. Workflow changes that can seem to the care team to just be adding more paperwork and extra clicks have met with resistance, but they can be overcome by ensuring that infrastructure, technology, staffing needs are properly addressed.

They are still working on overcoming challenges, including finding the resources needed to meet reporting requirements, delivering information to the patient in a clear way, meeting new documentation challenges and creating a cohesive and unified patient experience. But it was exciting to hear about the positive things they are already seeing. They are communicating with patients much more. Depression screenings are enabling them to really help patients who need more support. Tracking and analyzing data is helping them understand how they’re doing and identify areas for improvement. And patients really like getting more information, educational material, an estimate for the cost of their care, help from a nurse navigator and many other enhanced services.

So, what advice did the panelists share?

  • Involve key stakeholders early – the more people you have who believe in the proposed changes in care the better
  • Invest in communication, listen to criticism and use it to benefit your practice
  • Create a singular campaign around quality care initiatives – stay focused on the care, not the payer
  • Make sure, no matter what processes you’ve created, you are able to understand performance and collect data, otherwise it will be difficult to succeed
  • Understand the risk associated with the process – there are a lot of components to OCM – invest in systems to prevent human failure (forgetting, etc) from happening

The tone of this panel discussion was like much of the COA conference’s session – collaborative and hopeful with a dose of reality. A later session titled, “OCM 2.0: The Universal Oncology Payment Model” even proposed a new version of the model that could get all providers involved with more accessible, less complicated requirements. It was clear this type of innovative thinking is going to be essential for the future of community-based cancer care and this group will certainly be at the forefront.

Interested in learning how Navigating Cancer can help you prepare for a value-based delivery model? Contact us today.

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