Planning for the future of oncology care

Aging population is biggest growth driver across care settings

The Advisory Board recently hosted a webinar titled “How cancer programs are responding to COVID-19 and planning for future market trends.” I shared a summary of part of the webinar that was related to COVID-19 in late March, but it also included some valuable information about the oncology market in general that may help cancer programs navigate these new and uncertain times.

The landscape is shifting, be ready to adapt

Cancer incidences are increasing and cancer care is becoming more complex – patients are often older and present with at least one comorbidity and new therapies are coming on the market at a pace that is difficult to keep up with.

Cancer programs must adapt to new challenges

To prepare for this trend, the Advisory Board recommends that you equip your care team to manage more complex patients and more complex treatment by:

  • Adding new expertise on the care team
  • Providing training and support to help physicians implement and stay up to date on clinical innovations
  • Providing comprehensive education to patients
  • Accounting for increased physician and nurse time needed to manage patients receiving complex therapies

Anticipate new expectations from cancer patients

Patients now have access to a lot more information – they are not just relying on the care team as their only source. Patients also expect to play a role in their care and participate in shared decision making. Cost also continues to be a growing concern and patients bear more of this burden. They expect convenient and coordinated care. The Advisory Board recommends investing in services that cancer patients value most. Design a patient-centered care experience to retain cancer patients throughout treatment including:

  • Specialized symptom management
  • Co-located services
  • Multidisciplinary clinics
  • 1 point of contact to help patients understand care
  • Engagement in treatment decisions

Reimbursement changes seen as a top threat

Cancer care expenditures in the United States are in the billions and they are rising. This is driving purchasers to target cancer spend including drug costs, site of care, and provider choice. In addition, oncology is now solidly moving towards value-based care – the successor to OCM, the Oncology Care First Model will be a two-sided risk arrangement for programs that opt to participate and the Radiation Oncology Model also proposed by CMS will be mandatory. To stay ahead, the Advisory Board recommends putting the right infrastructure in place to:

  • Understand financial performance and identify areas for improvement
  • Refine your staffing model and put processes in place to manage prior authorization and revenue cycle requirements
  • Invest in cancer patient financial navigation to improve patient care and revenue capture
  • Evaluate organizational readiness to adopt value-based contracts; consider organizational leadership and culture, data analytics capability, and patient access and cross-continuum focus
  • Prioritize investments that will help you succeed under fee-for-service and value-based contracts, such as evidence-based care, improved access, symptom management, and data infrastructure
  • Understand organization’s top opportunities for cost savings
  • Focus on prevention, informed screening, survivorship, and end-of-life care as levers to reduce total population costs

Leverage technology to alleviate some of the growing pressure

Patient Relationship Management software (PRM) can play an important role in automating tasks, stratifying patient needs in order of urgency, and capturing valuable data to better understand your operations.

It can also enable coordinated care that patients expect because it surfaces tasks that need to be completed to the appropriate team member for prompt management (eliminating inefficient tools like sticky notes and Excel spreadsheets).

PRM gives patients a close connection to their care team – especially when they are away from the clinic. PRM technology aggregates incoming patient needs and the information is added to the same system in real time. Whether the issue is symptom management, financial navigation, medication refill, or one of the other concerns cancer patients are dealing with – they have an easy want to let you know what’s going on and your team can intervene when needed.

Interested in learning more about Patient Relationship Management? Visit Navigating Cancer’s website at

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