Tag Archives: strategic planning

Top Threats and Opportunities: Results from Trending Now in Cancer Care Survey

By Deirdre Saulet

Across the summer of 2017, the Oncology Roundtable partnered with the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) to survey cancer providers across the country to learn about their priorities, challenges, and top opportunities for growth. Over 290 respondents from 209 organizations participated in the survey. Non-teaching community hospitals comprised slightly over half of the respondents, while 21% were teaching hospitals and 16% were academic medical centers. The remaining respondents were independent practices, freestanding centers, and PPS-exempt cancer hospitals.

Survey respondents will receive their individual program-type cohort reports via email in the coming days. The full national report will soon be made available to all ACCC members  (member log in will be required). Keep reading for our initial takeaways.

Cost of treatment is the biggest threat to cancer program growth

When asked to identify the top three threats to future cancer program growth, 68% of respondents selected cost of drugs and/or new treatment modalities—clearly the number one threat. In comparison, only 47% selected the next ranked threat, physician alignment around services and program goals. Other top threats include changes in health care coverage, cuts to fee-for-service reimbursement, and shifting reimbursement towards value-based care.

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Competition increasing for majority of respondents

For the question above, marketplace competition was ranked sixth out of 12 response choices. Despite only 35% of respondents including it as a top-three threat to their growth, the majority of programs indicated that competition has increased in their market across the past two years.

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Clinical standardization and drugs are seen as biggest opportunities to save costs

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When asked to select the top three opportunities to save costs, respondents overwhelmingly pointed to clinical standardization and drugs.

These two options far outranked all other options—less than 30% of respondents selected the next-ranked options of supplies, capital expenses, and non-clinical staff.

To realize these two top opportunities, nearly 30% of respondents said they are planning to adopt clinical pathways for medical oncology, either vendor sponsored or homegrown, in the next two years.

Programs believe sub-specialists most likely to drive financial gains

To understand how cancer programs rank the profitability of different services, we asked respondents to select the three investment they believed would yield a positive return. Nearly 60% of respondents included increasing the number of sub-specialists, such as gynecologic oncologists and breast surgeons, in their response.

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In contrast, only 34% included increasing the number of general oncology physicians, indicating how much potential cancer programs see in physician specialization.

The second-highest ranked investment was marketing, reflecting the trend of cancer patients acting more like consumers and deciding where to receive their care. Next, nearly 36% of respondents ranked specialty pharmacy in their top three. In contrast, only 14% of respondents believe retail pharmacy will yield a return for their program.

In January 2018, ACCC members will be mailed a gatefold publication with Trending Now in Cancer Care survey highlights and key takeaways.

Guest blogger Deirdre Saulet is practice manager at The Advisory Board Company.
This blog is reprinted with permission.

Stay informed on the latest trends in cancer care delivery, health policy, and technology to support quality cancer care delivery at the ACCC 44TH ANNUAL MEETING & CANCER CENTER BUSINESS SUMMIT, March 14-16, 2018, in Washington, D.C. View agenda and registration information.


Is Your Cancer Program Indispensable?

In April, ACCC held its 40th Annual National Meeting, with a focus on policy, economics, and business. The session on “Strategies for Growth in Cancer Care Delivery,” with Sg2 Vice President Trever Burgon, PhD, was standing room only. ACCCBuzz invited Dr. Burgon to share some key takeaways from his talk. Read on and find out why the term “indispensable” is the way you want patients and payers  to describe your cancer program.

Person in information spaceby Trever Burgon, PhD, Vice President, Sg2

Let’s start with a provocative statement: There is no service line more important to your hospital, practice or health system’s future competitive position than cancer services. Here are three areas of evidence to support this claim:

1. Growing demand – An aging population and expanding treatment options will drive strong demand for cancer services. At the recent ACCC 40th Annual National Meeting in Arlington, Va., I shared data from Sg2’s Impact of Change® forecast model, which projects demand for healthcare services over the next decade. Much of this growth will happen in the outpatient setting, in fact, Sg2 forecasts stronger outpatient growth for cancer than for any other service line. Nationally, we anticipate that demand for ambulatory cancer care will increase 15% over the next five years and 31% over the coming decade. Demand growth will be softer on the inpatient side, increasing only 3% over the next decade. There is an important nuance in these inpatient numbers. Many inpatient surgical procedures will see strong growth of +9% over the next 10 years, while non-surgical admissions are expected to fall by 5%. This expected decline will be the result of improved patient management in the ambulatory setting and expanded access to appropriate palliative and end-of-life care which will reduce avoidable hospitalizations. Meeting this demand will require hospitals and health systems to develop and expand strong systems of care that coordinate services across the care continuum, from screening and diagnosis to outpatient and inpatient treatments through survivorship and end-of-life care.
2. Changing economics – Per person, cancer is the most expensive disease to treat in the U.S. For providers and health systems, cancer care represents an important source of revenue that helps subsidize other care delivery services. At the same time, spending on cancer is increasingly coming under the scrutiny of public and private payers looking to control healthcare spending costs. As we heard multiple times at the recent ACCC meeting, various new payment reforms, including robust benefits management, bundled payments, and narrow networks, all have the potential to materially impact cancer services. Successfully navigating these changing economic structures has the potential to impact the entire enterprise.
3. Connecting with patients and families – Cancer occupies a unique and important part of our healthcare landscape. It is a terrifying disease that will impact virtually each one of your patients and prospective patients either through a personal diagnosis or that of a loved one. Meeting the needs of these patients and their families with seamlessly coordinated, patient-focused services that span the care continuum represents a powerful opportunity to engage and care for these consumers over their lifetime. Guiding a patient from initial diagnosis to treatment, providing critical but under-reimbursed psychosocial support services, or ensuring that patients’ end-of-life treatment plans are aligned with their quality of life goals, can be some of the best opportunities to establish your program as the go-to place of care for all of a family’s healthcare needs. If you can provide this level of coordinated, patient-centered care for a complex disease like cancer, you can do it for any disease.

What must cancer programs do to position themselves for success in the face of growing demand, changing economics, and unique opportunities to connect with patients? Build a differentiated program that is indispensable to both patients and payers.

There are many ways to build this type of program and no two cancer programs will establish their indispensability in the same way. One area that will be consistent across all successful programs, however, will be a robust system of care that delivers value by ensuring patients and data flow seamlessly between the many providers and sites that span the cancer care continuum. At ACCC’s Annual National Meeting in April, we discussed a number of clinical opportunities for differentiation, including protocol-driven lung screening, easy-access one-day multidisciplinary clinics, and cancer-program-embedded outpatient palliative care services. In addition, we examined a number of oncology-specific bundled payment and accountable care pilots that progressive organizations are using to differentiate themselves with payers.

There are not enough resources to build every clinical program you would like, and not all of the new payment pilots will be successful and scalable. But these types of investments and innovations will be the key to making your cancer program indispensable in your market. And it will be these indispensable programs that succeed, to the benefit of your hospital, practice, or health system and more importantly, your patients.