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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.
However, innovative treatments and practice transformation have helped maintain the growth in the field.  

1. Treatment advances. Investments in biomedical research have led to major advances in precision medicine and immunotherapy, the report stated. The Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot Initiative and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Precision Medicine Initiative are full of promise to coordinate care and improve the delivery of “precision care.” In 2016 alone, the FDA approved 16 new and expanded use cancer therapies. Additionally, 2 revolutionary diagnostic tests were approved by the regulatory body the same year: a liquid biopsy test for lung cancer mutations and a next-generation sequencing test to identify patients with advanced ovarian cancer eligible for a particular cancer treatment.
 
However, these clinical advances need the support of decision tools, rapid-learning systems that can help providers assimilate patient data and make more informed decisions, which includes the emergence of big data initiatives, such as ASCO’s CancerLinQ.
 
2. Practice transformation. Innovative payment models incentivize high-quality cancer care while ensuring the cost is held in check. After CMS implemented the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, several innovative payment models in oncology care were developed that emphasize and incentivize high-quality cancer care and pave the way toward value-based reimbursement. The report states that about 43% of physicians (from all specialties) receive some portion of their reimbursement under value-based systems and 58% of oncology practices are using clinical pathways.

“We are making good progress but additional efforts are needed to ensure oncology practices remain economically viable, that the oncology workforce transitions to a value-based system, we witness continued improvements in interoperability and data sharing, and treatments remain affordable and accessible to patients,” Hayes said during the briefing.
 
Zon, who chairs ASCO’s Task Force on Clinical Pathways, also participated at the briefing and expressed concern about the funding cuts proposed in the White House budget blueprint for 2018. She emphasized that NIH and the FDA need additional funding to be able to maintain the pace of innovation currently witnessed in oncology care.
 


 
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