Susan Escudier, MD, FACP, vice president of value-based and quality programs for Texas Oncology, discusses how collaboration between oncologists and primary care physicians (PCPs) can improve patient satisfaction and outcomes.
Both oncologists and primary care physicians need to work together to improve patient outcomes while also maintaining cost-effective strategies, says Susan Escudier, MD, FACP, vice president, value-based care and quality programs for Texas Oncology.
What should cancer specialists know about working with primary care?
I think it's very important to realize that we have overlapping goals, but our goals are not identical. The primary care organizations have to take care of all the patient's needs. And I think that is actually quite valuable to us because they can give us assistance helping patients stay on treatment by managing their comorbidities, by managing their other medications. I think that they want to be in the loop, they want to know what's going on, and they want to have some say, at times, in terms of where do we refer the patient to for things like surgeries or imaging. They may have specific value-based care contracts that require them to use certain institutions over others.
What metrics or key performance indicators should be considered to measure the success of a value-based partnership between oncology specialists and primary care physicians?
I think it's really important that we look at patient outcomes. We have to have good patient outcomes because care can't be cost-effective unless it’s effective. We want to make sure that the oncologists are following national guidelines; we want to meet the quality criteria, patient satisfaction, and the cost of care. We have to show that we've got a handle on the cost of care without compromising patient outcomes.
What value-based strategies or interventions can be/or have been implemented to ensure seamless transitions of care between oncology specialists and primary care physicians?
I think it's really all about communication and being responsive. Our practice, for example, has an initiative to get new cancer patients in very quickly so that those patients can get taken care of, and that's going to help with our patient satisfaction scores. I think that we have to be in line with their priorities in terms of the insurance companies and the payers. So, for example, if we're in an ACO [accountable care organization] and we send consultations or imaging outside of the ACO institutions, that may have an unfavorable outcome in terms of the primary care physician meeting their metrics, as well as ours.