Blog Post

Lessons learned from our first Oncology Care Model panel

May 3, 2017

    At one of our first 2017 Oncology Roundtable National Meeting sessions a few weeks ago, we heard from experts on a topic that is top-of-mind for many leaders: The Oncology Care Model (OCM).

    Keep reading to learn what they shared about their experiences, lessons learned, and takeaways for other cancer programs.

    The Oncology Care Model panelists

    We are extremely grateful to the following attendees for their candor and willingness to participate in our first-ever OCM panel:

    • Christian Downs, executive director of the Association of Community Cancer Centers;
    • Stephanie Hobbs, associate vice president of the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at UT Southwestern; and
    • Dave Ortiz, OCM program director at Montefiore Einstein Center for Cancer Care.

    See our top resources on the Oncology Care Model

    The biggest challenge? Data analytics

    Shortly after the OCM pilot kicked off last summer, participants received a huge data dump from CMS with their cost and quality information. Stephanie and Dave agreed that making sense of the data and performing meaningful analyses have been the biggest challenge so far.

    Dave, who comes from a background working with electronic health records, has been working tirelessly with his system's EHR to better integrate the program requirements into the workflow. This requires buy-in and commitment from every member of the team, including financial navigators, pharmacy staff, and nurses.

    The panelists also discussed the specific challenge of tracking oral chemotherapy patients. Even programs with an in-house pharmacy need to make sure they have processes in place to flag enrolled patients and develop the infrastructure to monitor and track medication adherence. To help, the Simmons Cancer Center has created a pharmacist-led oral chemo program.

    OCM participation gives leverage to program leaders

    There were many reasons that cancer programs decided to participate in the OCM, but many ultimately enrolled because they felt it was a prime opportunity to start preparing for the future and executing on their mission of delivering high-quality, patient-centered care.

    All three panelists agreed that participating in the OCM gives cancer programs leverage across their organizations. Christian called out that the OCM serves as a goal to rally around and has captured the C-suite's attention. Stephanie and Dave also mentioned that their participation has made the cancer program a priority for their IT teams.

    What should your cancer program start working on?

    Since the OCM is a pilot, there are sure to be changes as the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) and the participants realize what works and what doesn't. (Fortunately, everyone agreed that CMMI has been extremely open to feedback and suggestions.) Regardless of how the OCM changes, there are no-regrets strategies every cancer program should start working on. The panelists provided three specific examples:

    1. Move to structured documentation. All cancer programs should start teaching and supporting a new mindset for physicians, particularly when it comes to documentation. Success in new payment models will hinge upon the ability to quickly and efficiently extract data, and that's impossible to do when providers input necessary information in the notes section of EHRs.

    2. Focus on value. Even cancer programs operating in a totally fee-for-service environment benefit from efforts to improve quality and the patient experience and reduce avoidable health care utilization.

    3. Educate your executives. Christian noted that leaders have to rethink how they analyze the return on investment for participating in cancer-specific alternative payment models. Models like the OCM are unlikely to yield a substantial financial benefit right now, but participants are putting in place the infrastructure that will help them succeed in the future. It's critical to help executives understand the importance of these initiatives and how cancer care is changing.

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