CVS unveils new precision medicine initiative for oncology patients

CVS is launching a new program aimed at boosting access to genetic testing for people with advanced cancers. 

Through the Transform Oncology Care program, CVS is partnering with precision medicine company Tempus to make it easier for oncologists to offer advanced genomic tests to patients.

These broad panel tests identify more individual variations in cancer that allow docs to pinpoint the best treatment option. 

Tempus’ platform also allows for rapid enrollment in clinical trials for eligible patients, CVS officials said. 

The program will be available nationwide to health plans who contract with CVS Caremark, with Aetna launching it for participating provider networks in fully insured commercial plans across 12 states. 

“This something our payers have asked for as a solution that is more comprehensive,” Prem Shah, executive vice president of specialty pharmacy for CVS Health, told FierceHealthcare. 

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He likened it to CVS’ existing work in kidney care—another disease state that payers were actively seeking solutions for. In April 2018, CVS announced that it would launch an initiative to prioritize early detection of kidney diseases and grow access to home dialysis. 

Over the summer, it announced it would conduct clinical trials for its own home dialysis system, the HemoCare Hemodialysis System. 

Oncologists will have access to clinical guidelines from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network in their provider portals, Shah said, which can ease the process in selecting a treatment plan as it’s built into existing e-prescribing workflows. 

For those who would benefit from the advanced genomic testing, that will also be flagged in that portal. The program would also ease the need for prior authorization for certain treatment options or medications, Shah said. 

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In addition, the new program harnesses CVS’ local footprint and wealth of data to identify patients who may be at risk for cancer and could benefit from preventive interventions more quickly. Shah said the goal is to go “end to end” in cancer care, beginning with early prevention to screening and diagnosis to the end of life for advanced cancers. 

CVS will also offer nurse-led care management as part of the program—which can identify potential gaps in care—that’s integrated into a health plan’s existing programs as well as the opportunity for value-based contracting with oncology providers. 

“This is a critical pain point for the marketplace,” Shah said. “We think that this is a very strategic solution that’s going to bear fruit for patients, payers and providers.”