Via Oncology’s ‘Pathways’ Promise Better Care, Lower Costs for New Jersey Cancer Patients
Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey and The Center for Cancer and Hematologic Disease Adopt Web-Based Decision Support Tools Created at UPMC
PITTSBURGH, March 1 – The quality and cost-effectiveness of cancer care in New Jersey are expected to improve as a result of a new collaboration announced today among Via Oncology, a subsidiary of UPMC, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (Horizon BCBSNJ) and The Center for Cancer and Hematologic Disease, an outpatient facility in Cherry Hill, N.J.
Via Oncology Pathways, a Web-based solution, will be used to guide oncologists to the best cancer treatment for each patient, based on his or her stage and type of cancer. The Center is expected to be the first of multiple cancer centers within Horizon BCBSNJ’s network to adopt the Pathways. Horizon BCBSNJ is providing financial and care management support to aid in the Center’s adoption of the program.
“We are continually looking for ways to improve the quality and value of cancer care for our members,” said Richard Popiel, M.D., vice president and chief medical officer for Horizon BCBSNJ. “Via Oncology is compelling because it has a proven track record at UPMC in reducing unwarranted variability in care and ensuring adherence to evidence-based medicine, which results in better care for patients.”
“Obtaining the support of payers like Horizon BCBSNJ for this novel program and rewarding physicians for quality and cost-effectiveness is key to achieving the kind of health care reform that is only talked about elsewhere,” said Kevin Callahan, D.O., managing director of The Center for Cancer.
Via Oncology Pathways—detailed guidelines used in clinical decision-making—were developed over the past five years by oncologists at UPMC. Fifteen disease-specific committees of academic and community-based physicians regularly review and revise the Pathways, based on their evaluation of the latest clinical literature. Through this effort, Via Oncology has identified a single, best treatment for the vast majority of clinical scenarios, covering more than 80 percent of cancer diagnoses.
These “best” treatments are based upon reviewing the literature first for the most effective treatment, then the least toxic, and finally—all other factors being equal—the most cost-effective. A Web-based software application delivers the Pathways to the physicians in a decision-support tool used at the point of care. It provides timely measurement of adherence to the Pathways at both a physician and network level.
“By standardizing care and driving to the best, evidence-based treatments, we’ve been able to demonstrate not only better care, but also a reduction in the total cost of care compared to practices without the Pathways. The program also has reduced hospital admissions, which translates to a better quality of life for our patients,” noted Peter Ellis, M.D., medical director for Via Oncology and a practicing medical oncologist at UPMC.
The Center for Cancer expects to integrate the Via Oncology application into its electronic medical record to ensure seamless sharing of data and to reduce duplicative data entry. The Center also will work with Via Oncology to spread this new model to additional payers. Likewise, Horizon BCBSNJ expects to expand the use of the solution among its network of cancer care providers, based on outcomes achieved at The Center for Cancer.
“Via Oncology Pathways is the right product at the right time for cancer care and serves as a model solution to the key issues raised in the national health care debate: raising quality and reducing costs,” said Kathleen Lokay, president of Via Oncology. “Winning payer support is a milestone in our efforts. We hope to influence more payers like Horizon BCBSNJ to work collaboratively with providers to share the costs and rewards of improving quality and reducing inefficiency in cancer care.”
About Via Oncology
Via Oncology is a cancer value management company and a subsidiary of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). Via Oncology is committed to innovative solutions that address the quality and cost issues in cancer care today through the development and implementation of the Via Oncology Pathways, a set of treatment options presented in patient-specific decision support tools that help practicing oncologists provide the best possible cancer care. This unique approach helps payers and providers collaborate on appropriate models that drive improved patient outcomes and sustainable cost management. For more information, visit www.viaoncology.com.
About Horizon BCBSNJ
Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, the state’s oldest and largest health insurer, is a not-for-profit health services corporation. Horizon BCBSNJ serves over 3.6 million members and is headquartered in Newark with offices in Wall, Mt. Laurel, and West Trenton.
Horizon BCBSNJ provides a wide variety of health and dental insurance products and services, including Medicare and Medicaid products, for businesses and individuals. Horizon BCBSNJ is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Learn more at www.HorizonBlue.com.
About The Center for Cancer and Hematologic Disease
The Center for Cancer and Hematologic Disease, P.A., was founded in 1973 in Cherry Hill, N.J., as an outpatient medical office specializing in the treatment of cancer and blood diseases. Since then, it has grown to include nine physicians in four offices located in Hammonton, Woodbury and Washington Township, as well as Cherry Hill. The Center’s physicians specialize in the areas of Hematology, Medical Oncology and Gynecologic Oncology and collaborate to determine the best course of action for each patient.
The Center incorporates a state-of-the-art electronic medical records system, allowing doctors and nurses immediate access to patient medical records around the clock. The Center actively participates in clinical research through a number of different institutions and maintains as its guiding principle the consistent quality of care provided to all its patients. For more information, visit www.centerforcancer.com.