Cancer care: Alternate payment models needed

Healthcare providers must embrace alternate payment models (APMs) to make sure that patients have access to the latest treatments, argues a new study by the advocacy group Turning The Tide Against Cancer.

The study, published by Clinical Cancer Research, argues that at a minimum, APMs--such as bundled payments and accountable care organizations--must incorporate mechanisms that encourage the use of innovative drugs and devices.

"If structured appropriately and updated with new knowledge, these APMs can incorporate validated new therapies, encourage shared decision-making between health care providers and patients, and improve the outcomes of oncology care," article co-author Gilbert Omenn, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Center for Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics at the University of Michigan, said in a statement.

The cost of cancer has been a tremendous burden on patients. Many of them have six-figure bills even if they are insured. And even after the disease has gone into remission, patients often have ongoing medical expenses associated with monitoring their bodies that last for the rest of their lives. Some academics have even gone so far as to recommend mortgages for patients who will have high out-of-pocket costs.

The report noted that for APMs to be effective, organizations must keep patients completely in the loop. "In order for patients to be fully informed during the shared decision-making process, they need access to comprehensible information on efficacy, toxicity [of the treatment] and cost," the report said. However, researchers noted, clinicians must convey the information in a way that is accurate and understandable to patients.

To learn more:
- read the study (.pdf)
- check out the statement