While oncology leaders have spent the past two years responding to the immediate impacts of the pandemic, the peri-Covid-19 era has brought structural elements of the oncology landscape into flux. As such, the future direction of oncology is uncertain and can play out in directionally different ways. This creates a unique but time-limited opportunity for oncology leaders to influence the trajectory of the industry.
Here are the five key strategic questions about the future of oncology that will be determined by oncology leaders' actions today:
1. Will health equity become a business imperative for cancer care?
The Covid-19 pandemic brought discussions of health equity to the forefront, and we've seen many cancer programs and other industry organizations create initiatives to reduce health disparities and promote access to care.
However, two years into the pandemic, these efforts are at risk of losing momentum as oncology leaders' attention is pulled in other directions. Whether efforts to promote health equity remain siloed and one-off or are elevated to become a critical business imperative for oncology organizations will depend on the strategy set today by oncology leaders.
2. Will value-based payment take hold in oncology?
Given the imminent end of the Oncology Care Model, the indefinite delay of the Radiation Oncology Model, and mixed results from commercial payers' alternative payment models, the future of value-based payment in oncology is anything but certain.
Changes made to recent commercial health plan payment models can give us an indication of where the industry is headed, but the shape and success of value-based payment in oncology moving forward will depend largely on the level of alignment and transparency across stakeholders and provider willingness to engage in risk-based contracting.
3. Will we be able to slow the unsustainable rise in cancer drug costs?
While health plans have been sounding the alarm on the rapid growth in cancer drug expenditures for a while now, we've recently begun to see the government, providers, and manufacturers take a greater interest in mitigating drug spend as well. The new strategies they're experimenting with have the potential to reduce rising drug spend, but only if oncology leaders are truly bought in on prioritizing efforts to lower cancer drug costs and willing to coordinate with others across the industry.
4. Will cancer care become more widely dispersed across care settings?
Cancer care is increasingly shifting from the hospital setting to other sites of care due to pressure from payers, the impact of the pandemic, new technologies, and other factors.
However, this is shift is not without challenges. Oncology leaders today will have significant influence over whether care shifts continue at the same pace we've been seeing and how coordinated or fragmented cancer care is across those sites of care in the future.
5. Will organizations be able to effectively attract and retain oncology employees in the post-pandemic environment?
The oncology leaders we've talked to recently are feeling the strain of staffing shortages, high turnover rates, and changing employee preferences and expectations in the wake of the pandemic. With growing competition from non-traditional players in the oncology space, the actions that traditional oncology providers take now to adapt their employee value propositions will affect where oncology employees choose to work and providers' ability to meet patient demand and maintain market share.
Collaborative action from oncology leaders across the health care industry, including leaders from provider organizations, health plans, regulators, life sciences companies, and digital health companies, will be required to influence the direction of oncology across these five inflection points.
Join us for the 2022 Oncology State of the Union to gain a deeper understanding of the current state of oncology and what you can do to shape its future.