Dallas — Texas Oncology announced today that it has been selected to participate in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Oncology Care Model (OCM), a new initiative introduced by CMS’ Innovation Center, that transforms how cancer care is delivered. The OCM emphasizes the overall experience and outcomes for patients by supplementing the existing “fee for service” model to foster the delivery and measurement of high value care.
This new approach to managing oncology care will require changes to Texas Oncology’s treatment management and payment processes. In addition, the practice will make enhancements that directly impact overall patient experience, including:
- Enhancing patient navigation services and follow-up after treatment
- Expanding survivorship and advance care planning programs
- Promoting awareness of 24/7 access to oncology teams
- Increasing shared decision making with a focus on patient education
The OCM program specifically applies to chemotherapy, hormonal, and immunotherapy treatments, but care for all patients will be enhanced through access to these additional services, regardless of treatment methods.
“The patients-first, compassionate care that we are known for at Texas Oncology will not change with the OCM implementation. Indeed, it will only get better for all of our patients as our medical and radiation oncologists, and surgeons collaborate more, and as we provide more focused patient support, follow-up, and survivorship programs,” said Dr. Steven Paulson, Texas Oncology CEO. “We want our patients to get well sooner and stay well – and avoid trips to the emergency room or hospital. With OCM, we’ll play a greater role throughout each patient’s cancer journey, to increase the value of care.”
A pilot OCM program, developed by US Oncology, was implemented earlier this year at Texas Oncology’s Waco clinics. Texas Oncology is an affiliate of The US Oncology Network, which is a large network of integrated, community-based oncology practices.
Texas Oncology’s commitment to evidenced-based care and value-based care models, like OCM, is ongoing and extensive. Other innovative programs previously adopted by the practice include:
- Pathways – Using evidenced-based best practices, based on those from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, oncologists provide high quality, effective treatment, minimizing side effects. Pathways guidelines prioritize improved patient outcomes, with consideration of value and side effects in determining appropriate treatment.
- Innovent/Aetna – In this program doctors use clinically proven care guidelines and provide added nurse support throughout treatment, including outreach between treatment visits when complications are most likely to occur. In a two-year program pilot, patient emergency room visits declined nearly 40 percent; hospital admissions were reduced by 16.5 percent.
- Episode Payment Model/UnitedHealthcare – This initiative rewards physicians for using best treatment practices with a focus on outcomes. By organizing payment for care around a complete treatment episode, rather than fees for specific services, medical oncologists can deliver superior results with reduced total costs. In a pilot study of the program, overall costs declined 34 percent.
“As a community-based practice, we strive to deliver high quality care, with treatment methods that are proven effective for our patients, while considering judicious management of resources and costs,” said Dr. Russell Hoverman, vice president of quality programs, Texas Oncology. “OCM and other cancer care models that focus on overall value and outcomes for patients are changing and significantly improving how cancer care is planned and managed.”
Steps toward implementing OCM already are underway. Texas Oncology will be enhancing services at more than 175 locations over the next several months. The implementation will require revamping internal systems for tracking patient treatment steps and processes, as well as introducing new methods for follow-up care, and monitoring and measuring patient outcomes. The program will continually evolve to improve patient care.