Leah Owens Explains Tennessee Oncology's Next Steps to Maintain Quality Care Post OCM


After the Oncology Care Model (OCM) expires at the end of June, Tennessee Oncology will take what it learned from the model and apply it to commercial value-based care arrangements and potentially the next Medicare model, said Leah Owens, DNP, RN, executive director of care transformation at Tennessee Oncology.

Between 2019 and 2020, Tennessee Oncology received a 100% quality score and saw 20% fewer hospitalizations and 27% fewer emergency department visits. Leah Owens, DNP, RN, executive director of care transformation at Tennessee Oncology, sat down with us at the Nashville meeting of The American Journal of Managed Care®'s Institute for Value-Based Medicine® (IVBM) to discuss the next steps to maintain this level of quality and potential effects of the end of the Oncology Care Model (OCM).


How is Tennessee Oncology working to maintain the level of quality it saw between 2019 and 2020, which received a 100% quality score?

That's some of the work that we're actually the most proud of. There's been a few things that we've really had to do to make that happen, and one of those is really just changing the organizational culture to get from people going to the [emergency department] and, instead, bringing them into our clinics for [intravenous] fluids and antiemetics. We really make an effort now that, if we can treat them outpatient in the clinic, we make every effort to do that.

The other piece of that though, too, was really improving the transparency because, prior to 2020, we really didn't have a lot of insight into what our hospital utilization even was. Now that we have that we share it out, we make sure we increase the awareness, everyone knows what their rates are, we talk about it in meetings, we talk about a reduction plan. I think that's super important, just to make sure everybody knows where we are.

Do you expect the ending of the OCM to impact these trends?

I don't expect the trends really to be impacted. I expect at some point we probably will plateau, because we've done quite well. We will certainly continue the same interventions that we have in place now. So at some point, I think we'll plateau a little bit, but our hope is that we will always continue to improve, come up with new interventions, and be creative about ways we can keep our patients out; but hope that we at least maintain our current rates, if not even continue to slightly improve.

How will oncology practice transformation continue once the OCM ends in July?

For us [Tennessee Oncology], not a whole lot will change. We are fortunate enough that we're able to keep all of the teams in place. It really took us the first few years of OCM to figure out what we were doing and how to be successful and improve patient care while we were reducing costs.

Now that we're there we're just excited for the future. We'll take what we've learned, we'll be able to apply those to some of our commercial value-based care arrangements, and we'll be ready to roll when the next Medicare model is here.

And it's great that we've had Hilary Kavanaugh here tonight [April 21 at The American Journal of Managed Care®'s Institute for Value-Based Medicine Nashville event] to talk a little bit about that, so we're really just excited about the future with the next Medicare model as well.

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