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For Immediate Release: July 16, 2013
Association of Community Cancer Centers Survey Finds Cancer Centers Striving to Measure Quality, Reduce Costs, and Increase Services
ROCKVILLE, Md.—Results from the Association of Community Cancer Centers’ (ACCC) recently released Trends in Community Cancer Centers survey show that most cancer programs are striving to measure the quality of the care they deliver, although many are in the early stages of the process.
High on the list of metrics used to measure quality are Commission on Cancer standards (94%) and patient satisfaction scores (91%), followed by the Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (36%), and the Physician Quality Reporting System (34%).
“As the landscape of cancer care evolves, cancer programs are evaluating the quality of their services and striving to improve and to implement best practices,” said ACCC President Virginia T. Vaitones, MSW, OSW-C. “ACCC’s survey shows that more cancer programs are investing in patient navigation services, cancer survivorship services, and genetic counseling.”
New Commission on Cancer Standards, which go into effect in 2015, may be driving the uptick in these expanded services for cancer patients.
Another key finding: patients and families continue to struggle with the cost of their cancer treatment. Despite the country’s slow economic recovery, cancer programs continue to see a high number of patients who need some type of financial assistance to help pay for treatment. Over the past 12 months, 88% of survey respondents report seeing more patients who need help paying for their prescription drugs. Cancer programs also indicate a rising number of under-insured patients who struggle with high co-payments and coinsurance costs. Transportation costs can also be challenging—especially for patients in rural areas or those who need to travel long distances to receive care. Three-quarters of respondents report that they are seeing an increase in the number of patients who need help with transportation expenses.
“This year’s survey of ACCC members provides nuanced insights into how the country’s sluggish economy and continued high rates of unemployment is affecting our cancer programs and the patients they treat,” said Vaitones. “The survey reveals how cancer programs are working to ensure patient access to quality care while balancing efforts to control costs, measure quality, and implement new standards.”
The Trends in Community Cancer Centers survey is a joint project between ACCC and Eli Lilly, and was conducted by the consulting firm of Oncology Reimbursement Management. This is the fourth year in which the survey has been conducted. The survey is available to ACCC members and on request.
Key Survey Findings
- As cancer programs strive to evaluate quality of care, they have found that data collection remains challenging and resource intensive.
- The majority of programs are taking a watch-and-wait approach to Accountable Care Organizations. Only 5% of respondents currently participate in an ACO.
- Cancer programs continue to seek paths toward cost containment without adversely affecting quality of care or having to cut services. Respondents report reducing travel or educational expenses, renegotiating vendor contracts, and cutting administrative expenses as the top strategies to reduce costs. Less than one-third have instituted hiring freezes (28%); fewer still report salary freezes (18%) or elimination of bonuses and incentives (17%).
- Sharing best practices remains an important avenue to improve the quality of care. For example, 91% of cancer programs said they would be interested in a peer network related to measuring the quality of cancer care delivery in hospitals for the purpose of spreading knowledge of best practices.
- Affordability of care remains a strong concern for patients, families, and providers as patients continue to face high co-pays and deductibles. Today, 88% of cancer programs offer some type of financial counseling to their patients.