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Tennessee Oncology receives perfect quality score while saving Medicare $5 million during last year of Oncology Care Model

Last week a national report came out showing that Medicare’s largest oncology-specific value based care program – the Oncology Care Model (OCM) – did not generate savings to Medicare after 3 years leading critics to deem it a failure. However, as one of the largest of over 200 initial participants in Medicare’s Oncology Care Model (OCM), Tennessee Oncology’s investment in care transformation is proving the opposite.

During the last year of available OCM data, which spans the 2nd half of 2019 and 1st of half 2020, Tennessee Oncology saved Medicare over $5 million in total spending. After removing care management payments, which do not contribute to patient expenditures, these savings double to over $10M. As the cost of cancer care rises and patient financial toxicity worsens, savings such as this is more important than ever.

Most importantly, Tennessee Oncology received a perfect 100% quality score during this time. Quality metrics that contribute towards this score include patient pain and depression assessment and management, patient experience, reduction in unnecessary Emergency Department (ED) visits, and patient-centered end of life care through appropriate hospice utilization.

During this time, as compared to the baseline time-period before OCM launched, ED visits were reduced by 34% and hospitalizations were reduced by 29%, allowing patients to spend more time at home than in the hospital.

“Tennessee Oncology is committed to providing the highest quality care possible to our patients throughout and surrounding Tennessee, while also reducing the financial burden of cancer care. Our OCM data is proof that we are on the right track,” says Dr. Stephen Schleicher, Medical Director of Value-Based Care. “To accomplish these results, we invested heavily in data analytics, created care navigation touch points, and incorporated electronic patient reported outcome monitoring to improve patient care. It is exciting to see these efforts working to improve quality and reduce cost for our patients,” says Leah Owens, Tennessee Oncology’s Executive Director of Care Transformation, a team developed to help drive cancer care innovation.

Tennessee Oncology has also invested heavily in building one of the largest internal palliative care programs in the country to help patients with symptom management and psychosocial support. “Palliative care is an important component of the cancer care journey and has been shown to improve quality of life and even extend life for patients with cancer”, says Dr. Sandhya Mudumbi, Medical Director of Palliative Care. “We saw our palliative care referrals increase over 17% from 2019 to 2020, and with continued growth, we now have over 10 palliative care providers in our practice.”

Finally, through its partnership with Sarah Cannon, Tennessee Oncology remains committed to clinical research and providing patients access to cutting edge treatments during their cancer journey. As such, over 282 patients in Tennessee Oncology’s OCM population enrolled on clinical trials during this time.

“Transforming to value-based care is not easy and takes time,” says Dr. Natalie Dickson, President and CMO. “With over 170 oncology providers serving patients in over 30 clinics across the state, implementing change is hard. The recent OCM report suggests the model did not succeed; however, our experience shows that for practices that commit to high value care, change takes time and 3 years of data may not be enough to draw a conclusion. For Tennessee Oncology, we are finally here and excited to be on the cutting edge of care delivery innovation to improve patient care.”

“And this doesn’t stop with our Medicare population,” Dr. Dickson adds. “We have now expanded these innovation efforts with the creation of one of the largest commercial insurance oncology medical home models in the country through Ascension and Blue Cross Blue Shield. Putting patients front and center, we are excited for what the future holds.”

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About Tennessee Oncology

Tennessee Oncology is one of the most comprehensive community oncology practices in the nation with over 170 cancer care providers, serving 30 centers across Middle Tennessee and North Georgia. Tennessee Oncology is a partner practice of OneOncology, the national platform for independent oncology practices.

Media Contact:

Sherry Mistro-Henn, Marketing Director, Tennessee Oncology 615-333-2481