Thyme Care unveils oncology practice partner network to scale value-based care

Thyme Care, a value-based care enabler focused on oncology, has formally launched a dedicated platform for oncology practice partners. 

Thyme Care Oncology Partners (TCOP), which has long been in the making, currently consists of more than 400 oncologists across 25 states. Together, Thyme and its partner practices will design and implement value-based initiatives for patients covered by risk-bearing entities, with Thyme taking on downside risk for these partners. 

“Very few oncology practices are taking large amounts of financial downside risk, given the infrastructure and information and data that you would need to be able to take that on,” CEO Robin Shah told Fierce Healthcare.

TCOP practices will have the opportunity to participate in quality incentive programs, which create novel revenue streams, the company argues. Some TCOP partners already participate in risk, but that’s not a requirement, Shah said. 

The company offers patient-centered resources directly within oncology practices like navigation services, operational and actuarial support and the incentive to provide value-based activities. While government-led efforts signal a paradigm shift toward value-based cancer care, Thyme said, patient navigation programs have traditionally been costly and burdensome to implement and scale. 

“We’re bringing together all of the stakeholders in such a way that it makes sense for everyone to be a part of,” Bobby Green, M.D., co-founder and chief medical officer of Thyme Care, said in an announcement. “Too often in the past this has been attempted without collaborating with the people actually taking care of cancer patients, the oncologists. Together with our partners, we’re helping to drive this shift to value-based cancer care.”  

Thyme Care supports TCOP practices and their covered patients with a 24/7 virtual, oncology-trained care team and wraparound services like care coordination, symptom management and access to social services. It also offers a data and analytics engine to help practices better understand their populations as well as reporting capabilities to more accurately measure results at the single practice level.

Beyond collaboration, Shah is excited about TCOP practices integrating their software with Thyme’s to maximize care coordination. A primary care physician can check within their EHR’s referral software if a TCOP practice is available and swiftly refer a patient to them, with the paperwork flowing through that process. At the same time, Thyme’s team will be activated and can validate that everything happened accordingly.

“There’s just going to be a lot more access and free flow of information between our two teams when a member is seen at a TCOP,” Shah said. 

As the company contracts with more payer partners across commercial and Medicare Advantage markets with risk-bearing primary care groups, Thyme expects to rapidly expand new TCOP partnerships, Shah said. The company hopes to launch employer partnerships in the next year or two.

Cancer patients typically see lots of different providers and specialists. Not every provider or health plan offers comprehensive navigation. “There’s just a breakdown of communication as those don’t always follow the member through every aspect of that journey,” Shah said. Thyme wants to proactively support patients when they leave the four walls of a clinic.

Recently, a patient at a large at-risk primary care group was referred to a surgeon for a biopsy. Yet several months later, that appointment still had not been scheduled due to a referral issue that went unnoticed until Thyme’s team was looped in.

“These are the small things that happen when there’s no one coordinating in the background—the system is trying to figure out itself,” Shah said. 

When seeking TCOP participants, Thyme is looking for oncology practice partners that are high value, meaning they have high-quality doctors and are accessible, per Shah. It also looks for practices that follow quality programs that exist today, like CMMI’s Enhancing Oncology Model or ASCO’s Quality Oncology Practice Initiative. 

Shah hopes this type of collaborative, provider-centric model will help shift the entire system to be more value-oriented.

“There’s a high cost trend in oncology and we’re seeing health insurance companies and risk-bearing entities push towards building a superior clinical model with better financial outcomes,” Shah said.