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ASCO's State of Cancer Care in America Report Addresses Access and Affordability Challenges

Surabhi Dangi-Garimella, PhD
The report, which provides an update on all the monumental changes witnessed by the field of oncology over the last year, highlights 3 key achievements: new investments in science and insurance coverage, payment models that emphasize quality, and rapid-learning healthcare systems.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) fourth annual State of Cancer Care in America report was released today and has been published in the Journal of Oncology Practice. The report, which provides an update on all the monumental changes witnessed by the field of oncology over the last year, highlights 3 key achievements: new investments in science and insurance coverage, payment models that emphasize quality, and rapid-learning healthcare systems.

The report points out that while there has been progress with care and delivery models, access and affordability challenges and increased practice burdens remain persistent barriers. There were 15.5 million cancer survivors in 2016, and the number is expected to grow to 20.3 million by 2026. Increased awareness and innovative treatment approaches are significantly credited with increasing the survival rate.

“Since 1991, we’ve been able to save 2.1 million lives because of significant advances in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment—something unimaginable even a decade ago," ASCO President Daniel F. Hayes, MD, FACP, FASCO, said in a briefing on Capitol Hill. "But there’s still more work to be done to ensure that every patient with cancer, no matter who they are or where they live, has access to high-quality, high-value cancer care.”

The report addresses the following challenges within cancer care:

1. Financial distress. A cancer diagnosis can prove financially catastrophic even if patients have insurance coverage. Newer treatments offer better outcomes for many patients, but are becoming more expensive and can burden patients and the healthcare system.
 
2. Healthcare disparities. Independent of insurance status, significant health disparities, driven by race, socioeconomic status, and geographical location, continue to persist and impact patient health outcomes.
 
3. Administrative burdens. Increased practice burdens, especially with increased reporting requirements to conform to value benchmarks, can divert provider time and resources away from patients, the report stated. Robin Zon, MD, FACP, FASCO, drew attention to this growing problem faced by physician practices during her presentation at the 2015 ASCO annual meeting. The current report states that in 2016 alone, practices from common medical specialties spent a total of $15.4 billion and an average of 785 hours per physician annually to meet reporting requirements. Using non-physician providers—advanced practice providers, nurses, and genetic counselors—has helped ease some of this burden.



 
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