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The Oncology Care Model at New England Cancer Specialists

July 11, 2016 · By Tracey F. Weisberg MD

Since New England Cancer Specialists was founded in 1978, our physicians have been committed to the continuous improvement of our practice and our services to benefit our patients. From clinical trials, to payment reform, to coordinated patient-centered care, a patient’s best outcome has always been our top priority. A few years ago, we were one of six community oncology practices in the country selected to participate in the COME HOME CMS (Medicare) Innovations project.  The goal of the COME HOME project was to re-organize community oncology practices to truly address the needs of patients with cancer at their time of greatest need.

The improvements in our practice as a result of the COME HOME project have resulted in higher patient satisfaction with their outpatient cancer care, and reduction of needless medical spending. As a practice, we focused on intense care coordination and patient navigation, and the development of urgent care treatment pathways which have reduced emergency room visits. We have worked to streamline inpatient admissions to reduce emergency room visits, address patient needs with expansion of urgent care services throughout the day, and enhanced patient education about cancer therapies and potential toxicities through one-on-one chemotherapy teaching prior to initiation of the planned treatment.

At the conclusion of this project, New England Cancer Specialists became one of the first certified Commission on Cancer Oncology Medical Homes in the nation.

Using this as a backdrop, CMS has now expanded the COME HOME experience to the Oncology Care Model (OCM).

The Oncology Care Model encourages practices to improve care and lower costs through episode- and performance-based payments that reward high-quality patient care. The OCM is one of the first CMS physician-led specialty care models, and builds on lessons learned from other innovative programs and private-sector models. Across the country, the project will cover about 155,000 Medicare beneficiaries.

New England Cancer Specialist is honored to be one of 197 practices selected for the OCM initiative, and will be taking a leading position in execution of the program over the next five years.  New England Cancer Specialists is the only practice in Maine to participate in the OCM project.

To be clear, the Oncology Care Model does not look to reduce costs by reducing access to care or access to state-of-the-art cancer therapies.   New drugs and tests will be utilized when clinically indicated as defined by national guidelines, treatment pathways, and research projects.  New England Cancer Specialists providers will always advocate for the best treatment and outcome for our patients.  We will work to deliver the best and widest array of care opportunities and provide value to our patients and referring providers through access to care, resources on-site, and care-coordination. We will continue to work to build an optimized care model, leveraging all types of technology and care coordination efforts to meet the needs of the individual with cancer now and into the future.

We are excited to be part of this initiative for the benefit of our current and future patients.  We welcome your input and questions.  Please feel free to reach out if we can help clarify anything about the Oncology Care Model project.

Our one goal, as always, is your best outcome.