Tackling the Strategic Decisions Facing Oncology Leaders

By Q-Centrix | May 3, 2024

Driven by rapid advancements in technology, shifts in policy, and an aging population, the field of oncology care is at another critical turning point. Oncology leaders are already facing these urgent decisions, from integrating value-based care to adapting to shifts in care settings and workforce dynamics. These changes, crucial for enhancing patient outcomes while managing costs, were illuminated in a detailed presentation from the Advisory Board, which serves as the foundation for our discussion here.  

oncology market trends

Karen Schmidt, VP, Oncology Market Lead at Q-Centrix, brings her extensive knowledge of the oncology market to weigh in on these trends. Her insights help Q-Centrix oncology partners navigate through their most important strategic decisions, offering a clearer understanding of how to adapt their programs to thrive in these new times. 

Decision One: The Urgency of Value-Based Care in Oncology 

The rising costs of care present a significant challenge to the sustainability of healthcare systems worldwide. With cancer treatment expenses escalating rapidly, there is a pressing need to shift towards value-based care models that manage costs more effectively and ensure high-quality patient outcomes. The shift has inspired the creation and adoption of several such models, including the Oncology Care Model (OCM) and the upcoming Enhancing Oncology Model (EOM). As the Advisory Board outlines, these models are designed to align incentives across providers to improve the quality of care and the health of populations while checking the growth of healthcare expenditures.  

Karen emphasizes the critical role of these VBC models, saying: 

“The adoption of value-based care models in oncology is essential for the future of healthcare. Models like OCM and EOM are innovative in that they integrate comprehensive patient care coordination with performance-based financial incentives. What will ultimately determine the success of these models is the quality of the clinical data informing them and the analytic tools used to understand the insights being generated.” 

The potential for clinical data to drive decisions that assist oncology programs in implementing the right program, positively impact outcomes, and contain costs has long been undervalued.  While assessing which programs will provide the best care for a given population at affordable rates is rarely cut and dry, using clinical data to connect the dots and obtain this ROI from cancer registry data (outlined in this white paper) can lead to a strong community and population health focus, inform strategic planning and the majority of factors behind effective value-based care. 

Decision Two: The Shift in Site of Care 

The need to reduce costs and enhance patient satisfaction has also led to a significant shift away from traditional hospital settings to community-based and home settings. By treating patients in their homes or local facilities, healthcare systems can minimize the overhead associated with inpatient care and provide more personalized, comfortable experiences. But the shift is not without its challenges.  

A Deloitte analysis predicted that revenue for hospital-based services will decline by 21 percent by 2026, leading to approximately $207 billion in losses and exacerbating an already growing issue. While this is a dramatic potential impact, it is far from the only one.  

Karen cites quality of care considerations as another concern, 

“The shift from hospitals to community and home settings is a transformative move for oncology care. However, the transition must be navigated carefully to maintain high-quality care, especially for complex treatments. While the potential for cost savings and improved experience is significant, the challenges in meeting these needs while ensuring safe treatments and managing logistics are considerable.” 

Karen emphasizes the importance of technology in this transition, stating, 

“Using advanced clinical data technology and analytics to support remote monitoring and real-time data capture is going to be crucial to enhancing the continuum of care and ensuring that transitions do not compromise treatment quality.” 

This sentiment is echoed in a recent white paper published by Q-Centrix on trends in outpatient care. Because data can help hospital staff detect shift patterns and determine appropriate care settings for patients, having the right tools and resources to access and analyze clinical data across care settings is paramount. 

Decision Three: Workforce Innovation in Oncology 

The oncology sector has faced formidable workforce challenges for years. As the prevalence of cancer continues to rise, the demand for specialized oncology care is only intensifying, adding significant strain to an already overburdened workforce. Karen elaborates on Advisory Board’s findings,  

“The oncology workforce is feeling the pressure from both increasing demand and the intricate nature of modern cancer care. We felt that pressure along with our hospital partners and decided that innovative solutions were a must.  

We developed the Q-Centrix Institute: a program for recently certified individuals looking to launch a career in oncology data management. We pair newly credentialed people with Q-Centrix cancer registry experts and trainers. The blend of critical knowledge from seasoned professionals with hands-on learning has helped us build the largest team of ODS-Cs in the country, reducing burdens for over 250 oncology program hospital partners.” 

Karen also emphasizes the need for program reform: 

“Streamlining workflows and processes are essential for alleviating some of the current pressures on our workforce. Whether it’s through policy, internal change management, or partnering with a third part for strategic support, I think we’re going to see heavy prioritization of these efforts in the years to come.” 

By adopting innovative approaches, the oncology sector will be able to better manage the growing demands placed on it while continuing to deliver high-quality care to patients.  

Decision Four: Advancing Health Equity in Oncology 

Health equity remains a concern in oncology, where disparities in access to care, socioeconomic factors, and cultural barriers can significantly influence outcomes. Addressing these issues requires a multi-level approach, leveraging both advanced technology and inclusive research practices to create meaningful improvements. 

Karen articulates the role of technology in bridging these gaps:  

“Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning are essential for addressing the social determinants affecting cancer care outcomes. Investing in these types of technology will help us provide personalized insights and improve care accessibility.”  

She also highlights the need for inclusivity in research: 

“Creating more inclusive clinical trials that reflect our diverse population improves treatment outcomes and ensures all patient groups are represented. This has been a significant goal as we develop the Q-Centrix Research Network, ensuring all different patient types are included in hospital-based trials.” 

Among the many benefits provided by the Q-Centrix Research Network, one major example highlighted by above by Karen is the support and opportunities given to hospitals in selecting clinical trials that best match their unique patient demographics. This tailored approach allows hospitals to participate in research that is directly relevant to their patient community and enables the identification of specific patient needs and health patterns. 

Targeted research like this enhances real-world impacts of clinical studies and serves to promote health equity through more precise and accessible care solutions.  

Shaping a Sustainable Future in Oncology Care 

We encourage those interested in learning more about the future of oncology care to explore these insights further through the Advisory Board Presentation, and the additional resources provided below: