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“Come Home” Program Lowers Cost of Care While Improving Quality at Austin Cancer Centers

Austin Cancer Center | October 18, 2013

Austin Cancer Centers has been selected to participate in the “Come Home” program being led by Innovative Oncology Business Solutions, Inc. (IOBS). IOBS, which was created by Dr. Barbara McAneny, CEO of New Mexico Cancer Center, has received a $19.8 million grant from the Medicare Innovation Center as part of its Healthcare Innovation awards. This grant will use the patient care policies created by New Mexico Cancer Center and implement them at six other practices, including Austin Cancer Centers, across the United States.

Dr. Brian Shimkus, medical oncologist at Austin Cancer Centers says, “The Come Home program puts us as oncologists in the driver’s seat of our patients care. We will be able to organize all aspects of our patients’ medical needs, and provide a continuity of care not seen in many years.  Our expanded access with evening and weekend hours means that patients no longer need to rely on emergency departments, but can come to doctors who they know and trust for their care. Ultimately this will lead to a higher quality of medical care and at the same time a more efficient and cost-effective form of medical care.”

Congress created the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation under the Affordable Care Act, giving it the authority and direction to test innovative payment and service delivery models to reduce program expenditures while preserving or enhancing the quality of care for those patients who receive Medicare or Medicaid benefits. The awards range from approximately $1 million to $30 million for a three-year program. The Innovative Oncology Business Solutions project, titled “Come Home”, is one of very few Oncology-based programs across the country.

The “Come Home” program focuses on team-based care, which is directed by physicians, provides patients with seamless, integrated, high-quality cancer care and has been referred to as an Oncology physician-directed medical home. By avoiding duplication of care and providing patient education and significant support services, it is expected that Austin Cancer Centers will help to lead the way for the next generation of cancer care.

The program is a good fit for Austin Cancer Centers.  The practice is the only private, physician-owned and operated multidisciplinary oncology practice in Central Texas, with nine locations and 14 physicians.  Austin Cancer Centers provides advanced, personalized cancer treatment, with experienced, board-certified oncology specialists offering medical oncology, hematology, breast surgery, radiation, genetic counseling, nurse navigation and extended hours.  Austin Cancer Centers is an independent practice, focused on high standards and principles, all of which are centered on treating people, not just their disease.

Austin Cancer Centers staff and hours of operation have been expanded to provide an alternative to expensive and inconvenient emergency department services. Patients will be admitted to the hospital only when medically necessary, and as soon as they are stable enough to safely complete therapy in an outpatient setting, they will be discharged from the hospital. Under the grant, Austin Cancer Centers and other participating facilities will be comparing their quality of care and the cost of care with control-group practices and hospital-based systems. By the end of the third year, IOBC’s goal is to have a good understanding of all facets of cancer care costs so they can provide a bundled payment mechanism.

“Saving money in health care while keeping patients healthier with better-quality care is the holy grail of health care reform. We believe our model can accomplish that goal,” said Dr. McAneny, IOBS President.

Learn more from the Austin Business Journal‘s article on how Austin Cancer Centers is helping to evolve the way cancer is treated in America.