1. Butcher, Lola

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The Association of Community Cancer Centers' fourth annual survey of cancer programs finds that the vast majority of respondents feel good to very good about their financial well-being, but that the consolidation trend in oncology remains strong. In fact, one-third of respondents reported a merger or other combination within the past year.

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"The future is toward larger entities-whether it's physician practices merging or multi-site health systems-more sophisticated resources, and coming to terms with the impact of cost of care on both patients (insured, underinsured, and uninsured) and providers," the Trends in Community Cancer Centers report said. "It is a transformative time in health care-and the oncology landscape is continuing to change with the times."


Survey findings are based on responses from 98 ACCC members to an online survey conducted between Nov. 27, 2012, and Jan. 13, 2013.


The accountable care organization models currently in use by the federal government and private payers are based on the idea that primary care practices can manage the health of a population of patients so as to reduce the total costs of their care. Oncology practices do not fit easily into those models; indeed, because of the high costs of their treatment, cancer patients may not even be counted in some ACO attribution methodologies.


Matthew Farber, ACCC's Director of Provider Economics and Public Policy, said he interprets the survey responses to indicate that nearly half of responding practices are preparing for new payment models.


"People are taking note of the fact that there are these general shifts (in payment) happening," he said. "Is the Medicare ACO model going to be the most important change to oncology community? Maybe not. But, certainly pieces of that or other new payment systems will impact virtually all oncology practices and hospitals going forward."


Quality measurement and reporting will be increasingly important to oncology practices, Farber said. Penalties for not reporting to the government's PQRS system begin in 2015 and will increase in the years ahead. If a practice cannot submit data to PQRS or QOPI, it should find ways to participate in other quality measurement programs to learn how to do so and to benchmark its performance against other practices.

Table Cancer Program... - Click to enlarge in new windowTable Cancer Program Financial Health
Table Types of Conso... - Click to enlarge in new windowTable Types of Consolidations in 2012
Table Participation ... - Click to enlarge in new windowTable Participation in Accountable Care Organizations
Table How is Quality... - Click to enlarge in new windowTable How is Quality Measured?