Closer collaboration between payers, physicians could reduce cancer care costs, studies find

Cardinal Health presents studies at ASCO meeting

DUBLIN, Ohio — Healthcare company Cardinal Health has released a series of studies showing ways that it says could reduce the cost of treating cancer.

Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield started the studies in 2008, in which physicians in the CareFirst network collaborated to develop evidence-based treatment regimens — also known as clinical pathways — for breast, lung and colon cancers that maintained care quality, reduced costs and ensured fair compensation for doctors. According to Cardinal, cancer care costs could reach $170 billion by 2020.

According to the study, presented this month at the 49th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, collaboration between payers and physicians was a significant factor behind the success of the program, which reduced CareFirst's overall costs by 15%, primarily through a 7% decline in emergency room visits, shorter lengths of hospital stays, increased use of generic drugs and more appropriate use of chemotherapy. While spending on drugs was reduced overall, reimbursements to physicians for drugs increased, as did reimbursement overall.

"These positive results prove that when implemented collaboratively with physician input and buy-in, our clinical pathways can create a new paradigm for the delivery of cancer care — one in which all stakeholders can win," Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions VP and chief medical officer Bruce Feinberg said.


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