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PCOC 2020: Cancer Care Transformation Continues During COVID-19


An overview of the agenda and speakers who will appear at Patient-Centered Oncology Care 2020, which will be presented September 25 by The American Journal of Managed Care®.

Last year, the steering committee of Patient-Centered Oncology Care® (PCOC), the premier multistakeholder meeting on cancer care transformation presented by The American Journal of Managed Care®, opted to move the ninth edition of the meeting from November to late September—and wondered if the biggest challenge would be moving the meeting’s location from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Nashville, Tennessee.

Enter coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which has upended travel and brought unprecedented logistical, safety, and financial challenges to oncology practices. Like most other medical meetings, PCOC 2020 will be in a virtual format when it takes place September 25, 2020—but as the scientific community has discovered, from crisis comes opportunity.

For example, COVID-19 has forced a deep dive into telehealth after years of nibbling at the edges. And a virtual meeting has certain advantages, too, said co-chair Joseph Alvarnas, MD, vice president of government affairs, senior medical director for employer strategy, and clinical professor, City of Hope, Duarte, California.

“The technology we have here allows us to have the kind of immediacy that we get under the best of circumstances and small sessions to allow individuals in the audience to get questions to the speaker in a really efficient way,” Alvarnas said. The online communities that have developed are very rich, he said.

In cancer care delivery, successes like telehealth have been offset by canceled screenings, disruption of longstanding financial models, and the question: will cancer care transformation continue?

The answer, based on previews with panelists who will take part in the daylong meeting: transformation must move forward. If anything, experts taking part in PCOC say, those who have more thoroughly embraced value-based care are better positioned than those who have not.

Led by Alvarnas and Kashyap Patel, MD, chief executive officer, Carolina Blood and Cancer Care Associates, Rock Hill, South Carolina, the meeting will offer up-to-the-minute guidance on how COVID-19 has changed practice transformation—and how the process continues, informed by the pandemic.

Keynote speaker Alexandra Chong, PhD, health insurance specialist for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, CMS, will open the event with her talk, "Oncology Care Model Experiences During COVID-19." Chong will discuss the decision to extend the OCM for a year due to the pandemic and what this will mean for the successor model, Oncology Care First (OCF), which has been described as a step closer to bundled payments in oncology.

A late morning panel, "Oncology Care First: Policy and Treatment Implications," promises a lively response to Chong’s talk, complete with recommendations and a wish list for what the OCF should look like for practices to succeed. Patel, who runs one of the most successful practices operating in the OCM, will chair this panel featuring Terrill Jordan, LLM, JD, president and CEO, Regional Cancer Care Associates; Mariam Alboustani, RPh, clinical pharmacy manager, Medicare Pharmacy Services, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan; Aaron Lyss, MBA, director, Value-based Care, OneOncology; and Randall A. Oyer, MD, medical director, Oncology, Lancaster General Health.

Early in the day, a panel on “Advancing Chronic Care Management” will highlight the changing nature of cancer care itself and perhaps highlight one of the lessons of the pandemic: practices with a financial model that depends too heavily on administering expensive drugs will be at a disadvantage, while those that embrace more holistic care of the patient—meeting nutrition and palliative needs—will be poised for success. This panel will feature Roberta Buell, MBA, principal for provider services & reimbursement information, onPoint Oncology Inc.; Johnetta Blakely, MD, executive director, Health-Related Outcomes Research, Tennessee Oncology; and Robert Daly, MD, MBA, medical oncologist, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Later in the day, Alvarnas will lead a discussion on precision oncology, including its successes and where multigene testing makes sense, as well as a payer’s perspective on where the evidence for testing has been mixed. Taking part will be Edward R. Arrowsmith, MD, medical oncologist with Tennessee Oncology; Lee Schwartzberg, MD, FACP, chief medical officer, OneOncology; and David Joseph Debono, MD, medical director, National Oncology, Anthem.

The role of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and the pain that pricing practices cause patients will be covered in an afternoon panel featuring Ray Bailey, BPharm, RPh, vice president of pharmacy for Florida Cancer Specialists; Antonio Ciaccia, chief strategy officer for 3 Axis Advisors; Denise Giambalvo, MSHRM, vice president, Midwest Business Group on Health; and Johnathan E. Levitt, Esq., attorney and founding partner, Frier Levitt. In particular, this panel will cover how efforts by states to reform pricing practices have caused PBMs to create new fees to replace lost revenue.

Other panel discussions will feature the role of clinical pathways, advancing biosimilars in cancer care, and efforts to address disparities.

Besides Chong, PCOC will have 2 featured speakers: Debra Patt, MD, PhD, MBA, executive vice president, Public Policy and Strategic Initiatives, Texas Oncology, will discuss federal cancer policy, and Harlan Levine, MD, president for strategy and business ventures at City of Hope, will address, “Optimizing the Impact of the Cancer Revolution.”

PCOC will run from 8 am to 4:30 pm EDT on September 25 and will feature 2 scheduled breaks to allow for questions and visits to online sponsor portals. For information and to register, visit ajmc.com.

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