By Amanda Patton, ACCC, Communications
As researchers and clinicians continue to advance our understanding of the genomic and molecular underpinnings of an increasing number of cancers, oncology finds itself at the “perfect intersection of precision medicine and genomics and concerns about cost,” says Kavita Patel, MD, MS, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and a primary care physician at Johns Hopkins Medicine.
On March 3 at the ACCC Annual Meeting, Cancerscape, Dr. Patel will provide perspective on whether these forces are on an inevitable collision course—or if there may be a way forward to realize precision medicine’s potential to ultimately reduce costs.
Value = ?
A core tenet of healthcare reform is transition to a value-based healthcare system. But, as the oncology community is well aware, different stakeholders have different perceptions of “value.”
“Value to some means reduced costs,” says Dr. Patel. “Others define value as reduced costs with increased quality. Arguably precision medicine is the ultimate in value-based care; it aligns the patients’ needs with the most targeted care, however it might have an increased individual cost.”
“Oncology is one of the few areas in medicine where we actually commonly use precision medicine. For example, for lung cancer we routinely send out tissue for targeted genomic screening and have therapies based on the results,” says Dr. Patel. The challenge is that science continues to outpace policy.
As oncology transitions to value-based payment models, “the members of the same community that brought us precision medicine—cancer clinicians and researchers—must be the ones who define value in precision medicine,” says Dr. Patel.
Population health must be a part of the value discussion, she says. “We have to do a better job of looking at outcomes and metrics and how we are doing with our patients.” Looking ahead, every oncology practice or cancer center will need to be measuring and demonstrating their impact on population health and patient outcomes. Somehow oncology will have to bring precision medicine’s individualized approach to treatment into alignment with population health value.
The cancer community must have a voice in the value conversation, Patel stresses, “because it’s important that the people who deliver care in real-time be the people who help define value.”