ONCOLOGY CARE MODEL
Keeping patients healthy during treatment has always been a goal of Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers’ care providers. Now, a federal five-year program, the Oncology Care Model (OCM), is helping RMCC achieve that goal with a coordinated, system-wide focus on collaboration and communication to ensure that patients get the kind of care they need.
The program aims to provide high-quality, highly coordinated cancer care while simultaneously saving money. RMCC is one of just 195 practices nationwide, and the only one in Colorado, chosen to participate in the program, which is overseen by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
There were no step-by-step instructions for assembling the OCM, so Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers has freedom to create a model that builds on the organization’s strengths, and fits its patients’ needs. “We really are learning on our own. RMCC has always provided good care to patients, so we are not reinventing the wheel, we’re just trying to fine tune,” says Michael Wagner, Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers’ director of operations.
An Individualized Approach to Wellness
With OCM, the goal is to keep patients out of the hospital and out of the emergency room. To do so, RMCC has been fine-tuning its integrated team approach to care. The RMCC oncology team works closely with primary care providers and subspecialists to enhance care coordination and navigation for Medicare patients receiving chemotherapy who opt to participate in the OCM. In addition, care teams meet regularly to review each patient’s progress and needs from diagnosis through the end of their treatment.
Symptom and Side-Effect Management
Under the OCM, meeting those needs includes providing each patient a way to contact a provider if they have an emergency, have questions, or just don’t feel right.
Many symptoms resulting from cancer treatment can be handled by a visit to an RMCC clinic instead of the emergency room. We want to be the primary point of contact for symptom management for patients, and we have increased our accessibility and availability to ensure that we can provide the highest level of service including:
- Hiring more nurses across our network to coordinate care
- offering 24/7 provider access to electronic health records (EHR)
- Next day or same day appointment availability
“If a patient isn’t feeling well in the middle of the day, instead of someone telling them ‘go to the ER,’ we now have blocks in our schedule set aside so we can get them in to be seen,” Wagner says. That prevents the patient from having to wait in an emergency room to be seen by an unfamiliar doctor, and it saves everyone money.
All RMCC patients covered by Medicare are eligible to participate in the program, which is set to continue for five years. At the end, CMS and RMCC will evaluate its effectiveness.