Newswise — PLYMOUTH MEETING, PA [September 9, 2020] — Today, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®)—an alliance of leading cancer centers—hosted a free online summit on innovative ways to lower cancer care costs. Reports from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimate that cancer care costs will rise to $173 billion by the end of 2020, prompting lawmakers to propose various approaches for curtailing costs.
The virtual summit featured addresses by Lara Strawbridge, MPH, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI); Brett Baker, Office of Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA); Afton Cissell, JD, Office of Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-TX); and Michelle McMurry-Heath, MD, PhD, Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO). The speakers joined panelists from across the oncology ecosystem to explore the impact of various regulatory and legislative approaches for improving the accessibility and affordability of high-quality, patient-centered cancer care.
“It's an exciting time in oncology,” said Gena Cook, Navigating Cancer, Chair, NCCN Foundation® Board of Directors. “There’s a lot more work to do, but the incentives are aligning to enable the transformations that improve patient experiences and care. As the market continues to move toward value-based care, we've seen significant changes that have improved the patient experience and had an impact on reducing costs.”
Many of the speakers narrowed in on technology-enabled approaches that can reduce administrative burden, lessen the duration and frequency of hospitalizations, and make treatment more convenient and comfortable for patients.
“Utilizing telehealth in an efficient manner will decrease healthcare costs by avoiding unnecessary in-person visits, while at the same time improving patient satisfaction,” said Ruth O’Regan, MD, University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center, Vice-Chair, NCCN Board of Directors. “The judicious use of biosimilars can offer cost savings with similar efficacy for patients, and NCCN Guidelines® can be leveraged to assist physicians in making cost-effective decisions for patients with cancer.”
Other panelists agreed that standardized treatment guidelines play an important role in elevating care while helping to control costs.
“The most important quality metric in cancer care is guideline adherence,” said Angela Mysliwiec, MD, WellMed. “Evidence-based medicine should be the foundation of any oncology care model and results in high quality care as well as cost containment. Deviation from guidelines is associated with poor patient outcomes and increased costs. Care Delivery Organizations (CDOs) are uniquely aligned to impact essential aspects of patient care and should be leveraged in collaborative relationships with oncology practices to close gaps in access to care and care management. These partnerships will ensure that efforts to provide oncology care are synergistic.”
The panelists also delved into topics including drug prices, end-of-life care, academic cancer centers, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), prior authorizations, and value-based payer models.
“Though the perception is that cancer centers are more costly, we believe that from a total cost of care perspective, we are a great clinical and financial value,” said David Rubin, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “This is an area where payers should focus.”
“We would like to see greater alignment and consistency across various payer programs,” said Thomas Daly, MBA, Michigan Medicine. “Uniformity of quality and performance measures across value-based reimbursement plans would improve provider and institution performance. Clinicians could spend less time on administrative tasks if IT reporting capabilities for claims were more universal.”
“Patients come first, and especially providing them with the highest quality cancer care,” said Ted Okon, MBA, Community Oncology Alliance. “Unfortunately, some in our health care system place profits over patients, leading to patients suffering when costs run out of control.”
The NCCN Oncology Policy Program held a previous virtual summit in June on the 21st Century Cures Act, now viewable online at NCCN.org/policy. Up next is a free continuing education program on blood cancers, the NCCN 2020 Virtual Congress: Hematologic Malignancies™ on October 8-10. That will be followed by the NCCN Virtual Patient Advocacy Summit: Cancer Across the Lifespan on December 10. Visit NCCN.org for additional free webinars and downloadable guidelines for providers, patients, and caregivers. Join the conversation with the hashtag #NCCNPolicy.
About the National Comprehensive Cancer Network
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) is a not-for-profit alliance of leading cancer centers devoted to patient care, research, and education. NCCN is dedicated to improving and facilitating quality, effective, efficient, and accessible cancer care so patients can live better lives. The NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) provide transparent, evidence-based, expert consensus recommendations for cancer treatment, prevention, and supportive services; they are the recognized standard for clinical direction and policy in cancer management and the most thorough and frequently-updated clinical practice guidelines available in any area of medicine. The NCCN Guidelines for Patients® provide expert cancer treatment information to inform and empower patients and caregivers, through support from the NCCN Foundation®. NCCN also advances continuing education, global initiatives, policy, and research collaboration and publication in oncology. Visit NCCN.org for more information and follow NCCN on Facebook @NCCNorg, Instagram @NCCNorg, and Twitter @NCCN.