In 2018, healthcare costs for cancer patients in the United States totaled over $112 billion, creating a financial burden for individuals and American society. Some oncology practices adopt a medical model that offers a wide range of patient resources and supports to improve care coordination in cancer treatment. Studies show that patients recover more quickly when they trust their doctors and have fewer financial worries.
The Financial Burden of Cancer
The financial burden of cancer increases the risk of personal bankruptcy and other money-related problems. This makes it harder for patients to recover and creates financial toxicity.
Paying for cancer treatment involves three kinds of out-of-pocket expenses:
- Co-payments: the amount paid by patients for each prescription or service
- Deductibles: the amount paid for medical care before insurance kicks in
- Co-insurance: the amount paid after insurance starts to pay
Out-of-pocket costs for oncology treatment may include medical appointments, prescription medications, outpatient tests, procedures, or overnight hospital stays.
The National Cancer Institute suggests four ways for patients and healthcare providers to lower the cost of cancer:
- Financial counseling to teach patients about health insurance and find ways to cut the cost of oncology treatment
- Public posting of costs to enable patients and doctors to make better decisions
- A pricing system that lets patients choose treatments that offer high value for less money
- Reform of healthcare plans for cancer treatment
Reducing Financial Burden With Value-Based Care
The value-based model of oncology treatment emphasizes quality care and optimal outcomes over unnecessary or ineffective procedures with these strategies:
In the value-based care model, healthcare providers work together to prevent needless hospital stays and emergency room visits. Routine team meetings increase communication, implement evidence-based treatment plans, ensure the coordination of care, and address new issues. A network makes finding and accessing clinical trials and therapeutic options easier, reducing the odds of financial toxicity.
The value-based model reduces the cost of cancer treatment by encouraging outpatient care, carefully evaluating treatment plans, and making the most of patient resources.
One example is providing a phone number for cancer patients to reach trusted professionals quickly and easily. A nurse triage can provide around-the-clock access to medical advice or reassurance for high-risk patients. Patients who get a recording machine are more likely to go to the ER than someone who receives a nurse on the first call.
Patient resources may include social workers to help individuals and families navigate cancer journeys, nurses providing medical advice, and nutritionists recommending a balanced diet during chemotherapy. A financial counselor means patients worry less about paying for cancer treatment and have fewer medical setbacks.
Putting effective teams and cost management procedures in place requires a broad knowledge of care models and access to the latest data from scientific studies, labs, and other resources. Efficient data systems enable providers to get test results quickly, verify hospital admissions or discharges, and analyze treatment outcomes. Technology also allows appointment reminders and instant texts for prescription drugs. A successful practice needs the right technology and the skills to use the information.
Oncology practices need a network of organizations and personnel trained to work together and support each other to provide value-based care.
At Nashville Oncology, we are here to support you throughout your cancer journey. With our wide range of comprehensive cancer services, we create a personalized treatment plan that respects the individual needs of our patients and their families. Contact us to learn more or schedule an appointment.