Leverage Symptom Management and Triage Pathways to Improve Care and Reduce Costs

Stephanie GingerPatient Relationship Management, Symptom Management

At the recent ACCC 45th Annual Meeting & Cancer Center Business Summit, there was a lot of focus on the challenges so many cancer care providers face, like the complexities of the Oncology Care Model, new applications for artificial intelligence, how to leverage technology to impact care and more.

In one session, Mah-Jabeen Soobader of Archway Health presented a study published in the Journal of Oncology Practice, “Reducing Cancer Costs Through Symptom Management and Triage Pathways.”

About the Study

An important goal of the study was to look at what organizations are doing as they move to value-based care and quantify the impact those activities are having on the cost of care. One approach many cancer care providers are implementing is symptom management with triage pathways. By helping patients make take the most appropriate action when they’re not feeling well, use of ER and hospital use can be reduced. Soobader acknowledged previous work that has been done to quantify the impact of value-based pilot programs, but pointed out that none of them identified the total cost savings that was achieved through reduced usage of emergency departments and hospital.

The two practices that participated in the study, The Centers for Cancer and Blood Disorders and Northwest Medical Specialties, were a critical component since they shared data and other important information. These practices are in very different locations and implement their triage process in different ways, but both are participating in the Oncology Care Model, so they could provide data not just from the pathway software, Navigating Cancer’s Patient Relationship Management platform, but also Medicare information provided to them through OCM.

This collaboration was essential to demonstrate the results published in the study, but also important for a successful transition to value-based care for the whole oncology community that can benefit from studies like this.

Soobader pointed out the challenge of trying to measure something that didn’t happen, highlighting the importance for future researchers to be creative as they work to do similar work. For this study, they looked at all trigger events for ER visits and applied methodology such as if the patient was directed to come into the office for an appointment, that would indicate an avoided ER event. With the Medicare data, they could see what happened with that patient to confirm that the symptom pathway and subsequent intervention did prevent an ER visit. She also pointed out that they quantified the entire cost of the ER visit – not just the facility cost but all the related costs – lab work, patient co-pay, and others.

Conclusion

The authors of the study concluded that symptom management with triage pathways resulted in an estimated net annualized savings of $3.85 million for the two practices.

Navigating Cancer’s PRM solution, which is used by both practices in this study, is a powerful digital tool not only for triage nurses to assist patients in managing complicated symptoms and preventing ER events, but also in capturing data to enhance insights to improve care and reduce the cost of cancer care. If you would like to learn more about the study or Navigating Cancer, contact us today!