Stephen Schleicher, MD, MBA, chief medical officer of Tennessee Oncology, discusses the practice’s plans to continue providing quality oncology care to its patients after the end of the Oncology Care Model (OCM).
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Tennessee Oncology has “every intention” to continue using what it has learned from the Oncology Care Model (OCM) and provide those resources to patients after the OCM ends, said Stephen Schleicher, MD, MBA, chief medical officer of Tennessee Oncology.
What does Tennessee Oncology plan to do after the end of the Oncology Care Model in June 2022?
We’ve learned so much participating in OCM: how to reduce hospitalizations [and] emergency room visits, incorporate pathways into care, make sure patients get the right care at the right time; we’ve centralized our triage teams, it’s a more defensive responding to patient illness and issues in the acute setting; we’ve centralized care coordinators to proactively reach out to patients. We’ve done all these things that have helped us learn how to improve quality of care. And we know that’s the right thing to do to offer, as Dr [Natalie] Dickson mentioned, our mission of the highest quality care possible in the community by lowering costs as we can by keeping people out of the hospital, etc. We’ve incorporated palliative care, etc.
All these things that we’ve learned from OCM, we have no inclination to stop doing that just because the model ends and we’ll continue to provide these resources to patients, which is great that we’ve learned this and we’re large enough we can continue doing that. What we’ve also done is tried to use what we’ve learned, and also apply this to a non-Medicare population as well. We’re in one of the largest commercial Oncology Medical Homes in the country through our partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield, and that’s also partially through Ascension, which we have a partnership with. And we’re in several other other medical homes; we’re one of 11 practices to be working towards ASCO Medical Home accreditation, etc. So we have no goal to put on the brakes here and instead continue to drive value, which also drives innovation in patient care.
Our hope is that Medicare has a follow-up model to OCM at some point because, just how we learned so much through OCM, we want to continue to learn through future models, etc. We hope that there’s a bridge between a model but not an end to the model for Medicare, because that is such a large patient population and those enhanced services payments allowed us to build these programs. So we have every intention to continue doing what we’ve been doing, to even broaden that to commercial populations, but we do hope that Medicare has an upcoming value-based care model as well because we’d hate to have learned all these things and not have a model to apply it to, even though we’ll continue to apply it to our patients.