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The Informatics Challenges of the Oncology Care Model

August 3, 2016
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Success will require new patient engagement, clinical quality reporting tools

Of course, Flatiron isn’t the only vendor that accelerated its work to meet the July 1 deadline. “The structure that the OCM requires has brought together expert teams in data analytics, IT and clinical content throughout McKesson Specialty Health and the US Oncology Network to create a system of care that meets the goals of the program,” said John Fleagle, M.D., practice president and managing partner at Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers, in a prepared statement. “From the navigator meeting the patient and their loved ones for the first time, the practice provides expert guidance and well conceived care throughout the continuum of their experience with cancer.”

Fargnoli said that oncology practices faced a few challenges as they approached the July 1 launch date. One was just general clarification of what all the rules and policies meant and how they were to be applied in the operational setting of a practice. CMS has been providing documentation and webinars to alleviate some of those concerns, he said.

“The second challenge is operationalizing those rules in a meaningful way in a clinical setting that doesn’t create additional burden on staff,” he said. That is where technology solutions come into play. Automating and making requirements as seamless as possible directly within the primary workflow tool of the practice, which is the EHR, is key. And offering the analytics tools on the back end to calculate the quality measures takes a large burden off the practice.

Practices that aren’t leveraging technology to make that easier are having to hire additional staff for manual data entry, and taking additional time to go through this with patients, he said, and when reporting comes around in October, there will be lots of manual data entry required if they are not leveraging software and analytics tools.

OCM is an ambitious model, and Fargnoli said the oncologists should be aware that there are planned changes built into it, and there will likely be unplanned changes as practices and CMS learn together. “So the ability to be nimble is going to be fundamental for these oncology practices. And that is where partnering with organizations that have the expertise to move quickly is going to be important. As OCM evolves and downside risk comes into play, there will be a whole host of additional opportunities for practices and additional tools they will require on the data analytics front in terms of understanding total cost of care, and the entire patient journey. Bringing together disparate data from across the entire health ecosystem will become pivotal.”