Glenn Balasky, executive director of Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers, previewed topics and potential takeaways from his discussion on building a community oncology practice for the future at the 2022 Community Oncology Conference.
Glenn Balasky, executive director of Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers, will participate in a panel discussion at the 2022 Community Oncology Conference, titled, “Building/Designing the Community Oncology Practice of the Future.”
At the 2022 Community Oncology Conference, you will participate in a panel discussion on building and designing the community oncology practice of the future. What aspects are vital to the growth of high-quality community oncology?
In regards to the panel discussion, me and the other panelists have met this week to plan our discussion. We all have different views and different opinions, but some of the things that we have a lot of common perspective on is, number one: All the perspectives of value-based care are here to stay.
Even though the Oncology Care Model [OCM] is phasing out, our practices have significant value-based care elements in our relationships with all of the private payers, and those have continued to grow and incrementally evolve, even during the course of the pandemic.
Whether it's in data sharing, we've got the ability to bill for advanced care planning with a couple of our payers in place. We're doing much more in regards to distress and mental health screening with our patients on an ongoing basis.
Principles we've learned from the OCM: We've continued to make very, very strong moves in making certain that we're using biosimilar drugs in almost 95%-plus of the opportunities available for those biosimilar drugs for Medicare and all of our private payers alike to keep the cost of care down, or the curve bent, because what's continued to go on during the pandemic is the duration of care keeps growing because immunotherapy and other treatments continue to work and are extending life—giving good quality of care and good quality of life. That's continued to grow in the last couple of years during the course of the pandemic.
So, value-based care is growing. We're continuing to make pushes in our utilization of precision medicine—fighting through payer authorizations and whatnot to get precision medicine testing approved so we can provide the right treatments for our patients. I mean there's so many things going on, but the industry is continuing to move.
There's consolidation, there's payer vertical integration—the Optums, Cignas, and Humanas of the world are continuing to evolve. How do we continue to evolve with them? How do they understand what we're doing to make certain that we're keeping the cost of care down so they don't exclude us, but they actually include us at the table?
And then something that all 4 of us panelists talked about for our discussion is direct-to-employer coalitions. We've inked a deal with a relatively small business coalition group, but it's really a direct-to-employer model where we're going to be their exclusive oncology provider. They understand the value we provide. They understand that if they go through a payer, a current existing model, that they're paying a lot more, and if they go direct with us, even if it includes an independent third-party administrator, they're going to lower their costs significantly for oncology care.
So, we're trying to get those messages out. And I think we'll have to continue to do that both on a local basis, as well as a national basis. Community oncology is going to need to continue to share these stories and use them not only locally, but nationally, to continue to demonstrate the value that we provide.
What are some takeaways that you hope participants and audience members gain from your discussion?
I think, number one, is there’s a lot of hope. Every day we come into our clinics, and we're doing very good things to provide great care at a great value. That should be our long-term competitive advantage in the marketplace, with payers, with other partners, within our communities, with our patients.
What we're doing is the right thing, and I think the pandemic proved in many of our markets that once we get patients across our threshold, they're finding, "Hey, they’re providing great and appropriate care, and I don't have to go far for that and I don't have to go outside of my community to get that care." I think that hope, that spirit of what we provide has actually been reamplified with the pandemic, and so I think people want to stay closer to home.
I think what we ultimately do really well is have a great relationship with our patients. Between our doctors and our staff, oncology is very unique. We enter into new relationships every day with new patients that are going to last, most likely, the rest of those patients' lives. And that's a key hallmark of what we do, what we do well, and what we need to continue to do as practice, management, and physician leaders is keep trying to tame all the intricacies of medicine so we do continue to have that time to relate to and care for and share with our patients.
That is one of our strengths. But we got to continue to keep a squeeze on all the logistics of medicine so we can provide not only great care, but that relationship in our care, which is really one of our hallmarks and distinguishing qualities. So, we got to keep driving out the challenges of medicine to make it as easy as possible even if it gets more complex, so we can continue to have those relationships with our patients.