Tag Archives: Cancerscape

ACCC Annual Meeting: Five Key Takeaways

by Amanda Patton, ACCC Communications

ACCC 42nd Annual MeetingNearly 500 oncology professionals gathered in Washington, D.C., last week for the 42nd ACCC Annual Meeting, CANCERSCAPE. Throughout sessions centered on policy, value, and quality, attendees heard a recurrent message: Your experience, perspective, and input on the issues of value-based care, quality measures, and outcomes are essential as the healthcare system and oncology transition to the new world of alternative payment models and value-based care.

From ACCC Capitol Hill Day last Wednesday throughout the meeting sessions, attendees were urged to educate policymakers and payers about the real-world processes involved in delivering quality cancer care.

In the meeting’s opening session, Congressman Rick Nolan (MN-D)  called out the vital role ACCC members can play in helping educate legislators and policymakers, “No one can articulate need, challenges, potential to ultimately cure cancer [better] than the people in this room today,” he said.

Can precision medicine be reconciled with value-based care? “Absolutely” said Kavita Patel, MD, MS, of the Brookings Institution.  Oncology already delivers personalized (or precision) medicine through targeted therapies for some cancers, she pointed out. Communicating about the oncology care process so that policymakers understand real-world cancer care delivery is imperative, Patel said. Part of that conversation should aim to help policymakers understand the demanding intuitive thought process that is part of today’s oncology care, along with the tremendous amount of information cancer care providers must keep up with given the pace and variety of emerging therapies. “It’s not writing prescriptions,” she said.

Five Key CANCERSCAPE Takeaways

High-level meeting takeaways that interconnect value, policy, and quality include:

  1. Alignment. For value and quality measures to work in oncology, alignment among payers, providers, and patients is essential.
  2. Put your data to work. Cancer programs and practices are finding ways to harness their data to improve quality patient-centered care and reduce costs. In a presentation on Collaboration Across Specialties to Improve Care and Curb Costs, Matthew Manning, MD,  from Cone Health demonstrated how his program used data to identify “hotspotters,” assess gaps in care, improve outcomes, and reduce costs.
  3. Communicate. Support conversations across silos and among stakeholders. Engage with patients to understand their goals of care and to define value and quality. While value frameworks are generic, “all patients are different” agreed panelists in a Town Hall discussion on Value Framework Tools.
  4. Be proactive. Don’t wait until USP Chapter 800 goes into effect to assess your facilities readiness. Don’t wait until HRSA issues its final 340B mega-regulation. Take steps today to assess your program’s compliance. “Be prepared” was also the message in a Biosimilars Update from Nisha Pherwani, PharmD, BCOP, clinical director of Oncology, Cardinal Health. She urged attendees to:
    • Understand the FDA approval process for biosimilars
    • Provide a concise review to your P&T committee
    • Review the FDA guidances on biosimilars
    • Stay tuned for more on how interchangeability will impact regulations.
  5. Speak up. Oncology providers can best articulate the care they provide and the issues impacting care delivery. Leadership in oncology has to step forward to help define quality and value and inform policy. Work with ACCC to make your voice heard.

This week’s CMS release of a proposed rule designed to test new Medicare Part B drug payment models makes clear the critical need for the oncology community stay on top of what is happening among policymakers in Washington, D.C.  ACCC has voiced strong opposition to CMS’s proposal. Among other concerns, ACCC points to the lack of opportunity for stakeholder input on the development of this proposal.

ACCC urges its members speak up and ask Congress to stop the CMS Medicare Part B Drug Payment Model.  Click here to contact your legislators.

Navigation Metrics and Value-Based Care

By Tricia Strusowski, MS, RN

Ms. Strusowski recently co-authored an article on “Patient Navigation Metrics” for Oncology Issues, the journal of the Association of Community Cancer Centers. In this guest blog post, she explores this topic in the context of value-based care.

ThinkstockPhotos-467463476Value-based care is a highly coordinated, patient-centered solution to address rising costs, duplication of services, barriers to care, and to help patients receive the care they need. Over the decades, patient navigation standards and core competencies have been established through national organizations. These guidelines and standards have provided an excellent foundation for oncology navigation programs. Metrics are exceedingly important for measuring the success of your patient navigation program. Value-based care (which drives improvements to the delivery of care by requiring improved care at a lower cost) encompasses more than metrics and has the potential to skyrocket your program to a new level.

As we advance present navigation programs, value-based care will be essential; it will incorporate all the key categories from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, “Delivering High-Quality Cancer Care: Charting a New Course for a System in Crisis.”

The conceptual framework from the IOM report includes:

  • Engaged patients
  • Adequately staffed, trained, and coordinated workforce
  • Evidence-based cancer care
  • A learning healthcare IT system for cancer
  • Translation of evidence into clinical practice, quality measurement, and performance improvement
  • Accessible, affordable cancer care

The goal of value-based care is to empower patients to actively participate in their care, which will enhance the patient experience and drive patient-centered outcomes.

How can we support our patients to participate in their care discussions? Some examples include:

  • Provide decision aides including questions to prompt discussion with the patient and his or her healthcare provider
  • Provide patients with educational information that incorporates their preferred learning style, i.e., written, visual, or verbal
  • Mandate health literacy and cultural competency training for our staff
  • Utilize evidence-based tools to identify barriers for patients and their families
  • Create a patient appointment checklist to explain the reason for tests and procedures

The result of value-based care is a patient-centered process in which patients and their families are educated and able to participate in their treatment discussion from time of diagnosis through to survivorship or end-of-life services. By having our patients actively participate in these treatment discussions, value-based outcomes will prevail and advance the level of our patient navigation programs.

Next week, the ACCC 42nd Annual Meeting, CANCERSCAPE, in Washington, D.C., will feature sessions that focus on various facets of value-based care, including a special Town Hall discussion: Value Framework Tools: The Provider Perspective, which will be live-streamed on Thursday, March 3, 2016, from 12:50 pm — 1:35 pm EST. Learn more here.  

USP Chapter <800> — Readiness is All

By Amanda Patton, ACCC, Communications

ThinkstockPhotos-180686516Last week, on February 1, the United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) announced publication of the new standard general chapter, <800> Hazardous Drugs – Handling in Healthcare Settings. USP approved an extended official implementation date of July 1, 2018. This gives healthcare facilities a little more than two years to conform to the standard’s requirements.

With Chapter 800, for the first time a USP standard addresses hazardous drug administration, bringing nurses—and not just pharmacists—under its purview. The standard covers all medications specified in the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) list of antineoplastic and other hazardous drugs.

“If there is chemotherapy in your organization, then it applies to you. So you better know about USP 800,” says Martha Polovich, PhD, RN, AOCN, Assistant Professor, Georgia State University. “It applies to all healthcare personnel and all entities in which these drugs are present.” In a session on March 4 at the ACCC Annual Meeting, CANCERSCAPE, Dr. Polovich will provide an in-depth look at final USP Chapter 800, what cancer programs need to know about compliance, and why time is of the essence. Dr. Polovich served on the expert panel that helped to write Chapter 800.

Although the implementation is July 2018, “You can’t wait until early 2018 and expect to meet the standard,” Dr. Polovich warns. While some organizations are already in compliance, it may take others that long to get up to speed, according to Dr. Polovich. Some will need to make capital improvements. And because Chapter 800 requires the use of closed-system transfer devices (CSTD) for hazardous drug administration, some will need to acquire CSTD and ensure that staff is fully trained.

USP 800 is an enforceable standard meaning that state boards of pharmacy and other regulatory entities may require compliance with the new standard.

Readiness is All

What should healthcare facilities be doing to prepare for compliance? As a first step, Dr. Polovich suggests a baseline assessment to find out where the organization is not meeting the standard. Using the baseline assessment results, organizations can then prioritize next steps. For example, if major capital improvements are needed, ensure that these are added into the budget planning cycle. Another key piece is identifying a champion who will be responsible for the organization’s safe handling program and be in charge of USP 800 compliance, she says. This individual should be an expert who is knowledgeable about hazardous drug management and prevention of exposure to hazardous drugs. Healthcare facilities also need to identify the drugs in their organization that should be handled as hazardous.

Join us at the ACCC Annual Meeting to hear from Dr. Polovich and other thought leaders on issues impacting quality oncology care delivery today and tomorrow. View the meeting agenda and learn more here.

Collision Ahead? Precision Medicine & Cost

By Amanda Patton, ACCC, Communications

meetings-AM2016-brochure-190x246As 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.”

You’re invited to be part of that conversation. Join us at the ACCC Annual Meeting, Cancerscape, March 2-4, in Washington, D.C. Learn more here.

CANCERSCAPE Session to Demystify Site-Neutral Payment Policy

By Amanda Patton, ACCC Communications

meetings-AM2016-brochure-190x246In recent months MedPAC, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Congress, and the GAO have ramped up attention on the impact of consolidation and integration, shifts in sites of service, and how unequal payment rates across settings of care are affecting Medicare costs.

Adding to the controversy (and confusion) around site-neutral payment as a solution to reducing the Medicare “spend” is the recently passed Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 at Section 603, “Treatment of Off-Campus Outpatient Departments of a Provider.”

Although the issues surrounding site neutral payment policy are complex, “Section 603 is pretty straight forward,” says Ronald Barkley, MS, JD, of the CCBD Group. “It’s the downstream unintended consequences that cancer programs need to understand.” In a session at the upcoming ACCC Annual National meeting in Washington, D.C., March 2-4, Barkley will demystify site neutral payment policies, lay out pros and cons, and provide a realistic assessment of the potential impact of Section 603. Attendees will leave with a 360-degree understanding of the issues and a “knowledge base to work from” going forward, Barkley said.

Site-neutral payment policies have the potential to affect revenue and budgeting, strategic planning, pro forma development, and 340B Drug Program participation. Thus, a thorough understanding of Section 603 is critical for today’s cancer program leadership.

Time is of the essence, according to Barkley. “There is a window of opportunity to take your message to CMS before [the agency] translates the [Section 603] legislation into regulation.”

Attend the ACCC 42nd Annual Meeting, CANCERSCAPE, from March 2—4, 2016, in Washington, D.C., and gain strategic insight into key drivers of change impacting our evolving oncology care delivery system in sessions focused on Policy, Value, and Quality. Learn more here.  Want to discuss this issue with your elected representatives on Capitol Hill? See what’s planned for ACCC Capitol Hill Day on March 2.

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Originally posted to ACCCBuzz on January 28, 2016.

Why ICD-10 Codes Must Tell Your Patient’s Story

By Amanda Patton, ACCC Communications

meetings-AM2016-brochure-190x246We’re four months post ICD-10 implementation and some are comparing the transition to Y2K—a lot of sound and fury over what ultimately turned out to be a relatively calm transition.

If you think it’s all smooth sailing from here on out, think again. “ICD-10 is nothing like Y2K,” says Cindy Parman, CPC, CPC-H, RCC, Principal, Coding Strategies, Inc. “Moving to ICD-10 is more like having a baby. Once the baby’s arrived the work begins.”

In a session on Friday, March 4 at the ACCC 42nd Annual Meeting, CANCERSCAPE, Parman will be sharing tips for cancer programs to take stock of their ICD-10 transition.

Post implementation, what ICD-10 pain points is Parman seeing in oncology programs?

· Coding errors.  These may be coder mistakes or they may stem from insufficient documentation in the medical record—for example, physicians not providing enough information.
· Productivity.  Working with ICD-10 is taking coders longer because there is more information to sift through and coders may have to go back to physicians with questions.
· Reimbursement issues.  Insurance payers are taking an opportunity to tighten up qualifications for reimbursement. Some ICD-9 codes may have been reimbursed in the past, where the corresponding ICD-10 code will not result in payment. Even smooth transitions to ICD-10 don’t necessarily mean that cancer programs are coding correctly, Parman warns.

“It’s important for cancer programs to understand that ICD-10 is a patient classification system,” says Parman. Used appropriately, the code set will generate the data that tells the patient’s story and ensure that providers are getting credit for all of the care that is being provided. But when codes are missed that story is incomplete.

New payment models will be driven by ICD-10 codes, and capturing all the care provided for patients is critical, Parman says. “The data that cancer programs are collecting today will be used by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to develop future alternative payment models (APMs). If the codes used do not reflect the full scope of services provided, cancer programs won’t be able to go back later and say ‘we left these codes off.’ ”

During her meeting session, Parman will discuss the potential for mining ICD-10 data to measure quality, safety and efficiency, among other indicators. But, she points out, “You can’t mine data you don’t have.”

Join us at the ACCC 42nd Annual Meeting, CANCERSCAPE, from March 2—4, 2016, in Washington, D.C., and gain strategic insight into three key drivers of change impacting our evolving oncology care delivery system: policy, value, and quality. Full session and speaker information available here.

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Originally posted to ACCCBuzz on January 26, 2016.

CANCERSCAPE Session on OCM Brings Insights

by Amanda Patton, ACCC Communications

20150317_ACCC_41st_190On Tuesday, March 17, at ACCC’s Annual Meeting, Ron Kline, MD, Medical Officer with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), and Kavita Patel, MD, MS, of the Brookings Institution helped bring a little more clarity to CMMI’s Medicare’s Oncology Care Model (OCM).

The OCM has been developed by CMMI to test new payment and service delivery models, as part of its overarching triple aim of better care, smarter spending, and healthier people. OCM goals center on care coordination; appropriateness of care; and access for beneficiaries going through chemotherapy, Dr. Kline said. Learn more here.

In his overview of the five-year pilot, Dr. Kline pointed to the multi-payer nature of the OCM. “Payers are encouraged to work as part of the model. The point is to leverage the OCM to bring in more and more payers and patients to this model.”

Finally, he stressed the OCM is not intended to be a one-size-fits-all model.

“Part of the point of OCM is that we don’t have all the right answers for all the parts of the country…and the best way to move forward is to learn best practices [through the model].”

CMMI plans to hold webinars, site visits, and meetings at ASCO and elsewhere to share OCM best practices, he said.

So, What’s Everyone Asking?

According to Dr. Patel, the top OCM hot topics are:

# 1 Eligibility. CMMI wants the OCM to “include everyone as much as possible as long as we adhere to the principles of the OCM, attribute, and benchmark appropriately,” said Dr. Kline.

“ACCC is exactly the audience the Oncology Care Model is tailored for—those providing ongoing services for cancer care,” said Dr. Patel.

#2 If you have a practice, can only some providers participate? The short answer is, if you participate, anyone in the practice who is prescribing chemotherapy would be automatically included in the OCM. This includes NPs or PAs who might be prescribing. Simply put: It’s an inclusive model.

#3 Data requirements. Participants need the administrative and technological resources to support these.

For those contemplating OCM participation Patel suggests the following steps:

  • Evaluate what infrastructure investment you will need to make.
  • Perform a serious “gut check” with providers on what OCM participation will mean.
  • Consider how you’ll get all those involved in the OCM to understand the model’s total cost of care framework. (This last item is likely the biggest organizational hurdle, Patel said.)
  • Finally, consider the staffing requirements for participation.

What components will be needed for OCM success? Dr. Patel identified three:

  • Bringing on primary care physicians
  • Learning how to do robust data exchange inside the practice, e.g., having an EMR able to deliver clinicians what they need at point of service
  • Being able to predict which patients in your population will need more intensive services (risk stratify).

Perhaps it’s not surprising that even during the OCM discussion, the SGR made a cameo appearance. Dr. Patel noted that details of an SGR fix currently being negotiated on Capitol Hill will likely include some provisions that will force doctors to enter into alternative payment models in the next five years.

Bringing the Oncology Care Model into Focus

By Leah Ralph, Manager, Provider Economics and Public Policy, ACCC

imagesAs ACCC members are well aware, on February 12, the CMS Innovation Center (CMMI) released its much-anticipated Oncology Care Model (OCM) as part of the broader effort to lower healthcare costs and tie reimbursement to quality and value. ACCC has been conducting an in-depth analysis, and, overall, the OCM generally resembles the discussion draft we saw in August; while the model contains many positive elements, other areas still need clarification.

At its core, the OCM looks similar to a patient-centered oncology medical home or accountable care organization (ACO), with a target expenditure and shared savings component that encompasses the total cost of patient care during a particular period of treatment. The model is a voluntary, five-year program slated to begin in spring 2016. Physician group practices, hospital-based practices (except for PPS-exempt hospitals), and solo practitioners that furnish cancer chemotherapy are eligible to participate. Payments will be based on a six-month episode of chemotherapy treatment that is triggered by the administration of a pre-set list of chemotherapy drugs, and will take into account all Part A, Part B, and some Part D expenditures for that patient during the episode. In addition to a FFS payment, providers will receive a care coordination payment to improve quality of care ($160 per patient, per month during the episode) and a performance-based payment to incentivize lower costs that will be based on the difference between a risk-adjusted target price and actual expenditures during the episode. The payment arrangement is one-sided risk, with the option of converting to two-sided risk in the third year.

Importantly, the OCM is a multi-payer model in which commercial payers and state Medicaid agencies are encouraged to participate. Aligning financial incentives by engaging multiple payers will leverage the opportunity to transform oncology care across a broader population. During the selection process, CMMI will favor practices that participate with other payers in addition to Medicare. In addition, practices will have to meet certain quality metrics and undergo practice transformation requirements, including: effective use of electronic health records; 24-hour access to practitioners who can consult the patient’s medical record in real time; comprehensive patient care plans; patient navigators; and continuous quality improvement.

While we were pleased to see much of ACCC’s feedback incorporated in the final version, our dialogue with CMS is ongoing. Our members continue to have questions about the benchmarking methodology, specifics on the quality metrics and practice transformation requirements, eligibility to participate in the model, and more. ACCC will continue to seek answers to these questions, and will offer CMS feedback based on member input.

If your practice is interested in participating, or considering participation, we encourage you to submit a non-binding letter of intent to CMS by the deadline of April 23, 2015. We anticipate CMS will continue to provide additional guidance until the application deadline, which is June 18, 2015.

Join us at ACCC’s Annual Meeting CANCERSCAPE on March 17 and hear directly from Ron Kline, MD, Medical Officer with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation—an author of the Oncology Care Model, as he shares an insider’s perspective on New Payment and Delivery Models in Medicare.

Ringing in the New Year

US Capitolby Leah Ralph, Manager, Provider Economics and Public Policy, ACCC

The last few months have brought big changes to Washington, D.C. We will ring in the New Year with both chambers of Congress under GOP control, which means the parties are reorganizing and, importantly, the legislative agenda is shifting. While it’s still anyone’s guess whether new leadership will mean less political infighting in 2015, issues like trade, energy, and tax reform are early contenders for potential areas of compromise next year.

The ACA (Affordable Care Act) will also make the top of the political agenda: starting in January, you can count on Republicans to look for every opportunity to take the legs out from under President Obama’s signature achievement. Although full repeal is unlikely, as it would face an all-but-guaranteed presidential veto, expect the new majority to focus their efforts on introducing a series of stand-alone bills targeting the most unpopular provisions of the law.

Predicting the fate of non-ACA healthcare legislation is a tougher call. On the one hand, healthcare fatigue still looms large among legislators, making issues like a long-term fix to the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), oral parity, and sequestration more of an uphill climb. On the other hand, new leadership, a renewed vow to work across the aisle, and public dissatisfaction with the status quo are bringing new energy to Congress.

Will 2015 Bring a Permanent SGR Fix?

In 2014 we saw what was arguably the best opportunity in years to finally fix the fundamentally flawed SGR formula. Congress came to agreement on a bipartisan bill that had a relatively low price tag, but in the end could not reach consensus on how to pay for the fix. As a result, the bill never came to a vote and will need to be reintroduced in the new Congress. Still the fact that Congress achieved consensus on policy is a promising sign for 2015. We have now weathered seventeen (17!) “doc fix” patches that, if added together, cost far more than the comprehensive approach lawmakers are considering today. This year’s ACCC Capitol Hill Day is scheduled for March 16, so we will be visiting with our legislators just weeks before the current “doc fix” expires on March 31.

Will We See Federal Oral Parity Legislation?

Passing a national oral parity law continues to be a top priority for ACCC membership. On the state level, oral parity efforts are gaining momentum. To date, 34 states and D.C. have enacted oral parity laws, and several other states are ramping up their grassroots efforts for 2015. Given that an estimated 25 to 35 percent of all oncology therapies in the pipeline will available only in pill form, the need for comprehensive, federal oral parity legislation is increasingly critical to patient access. While state-level legislation remains important, lawmakers need to understand that federal legislation would ensure consistency in oral parity laws across the country and would include plans that fall outside the purview of state regulation.

Will We See Any Relief from the Sequester?

Last year, legislation to exempt cancer drugs from the Medicare sequester gained more than 100 cosponsors. ACCC will be advocating for this legislation to be reintroduced in 2015.

As you can see, 2015 is the year to make your voice heard! Join us for Capitol Hill Day on March 16, and stay for the ACCC 41st Annual Meeting, CANCERSCAPE, which will follow March 17–18 in Crystal City, Va. Read our agenda and register today!

If you have additional questions, or would like to get involved with ACCC advocacy, please contact me at lralph@accc-cancer.org.