UAB Expands Cancer Navigation Program Nationally


 

The University of Alabama at Birmingham and Guideway Care have announced a partnership to expand the reach of UAB's cancer navigation program, Patient Care Connect, to patients nationally.

The UAB Patient Care Connect program was funded by a $15 million Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation grant to help create a national model for improving outcomes while reducing unnecessary health care utilization, as well as decreasing the cost of cancer care.

The national implementation of the program will be led by Guideway Care, which provides knowledgeable cancer care guides, processes and technology to assist cancer patients, especially during the periods in between clinical visits.

"Building on the proven methodology created at UAB, Guideway Care provides patient guidance beyond navigation," said Craig Parker, CEO of Guideway Care.

The UAB Patient Care Connect program succeeded locally by using nonclinical resources to resolve barriers patients encounter during their cancer journey. Results during UAB's program implementation include:

  • 55 percent reduction in hospitalizations: Hospitalization rates dropped from 35.8 percent to 16.1 percent in the navigated patient population.
  • 29 percent reduction in ER visits: ER visits decreased from 30.7 percent to 21.8 percent in the navigated patient population.
  • 60 percent reduction in ICU admissions: ICU admissions dropped from 10 percent to 4 percent in the navigated patient population.
  • 45 percent reduction in overall cost: In terms of Medicare claims, there was a reduction of overall cost in the navigated patient population from $15,091 to $8,269 per patient per quarter, which is a Medicare savings of $6,822 per navigated patient. Cost in the last six months of life decreased from $23,735 to $16,764 in comparison to the non-navigated group that increased from $13,418 to $15,544.

The UAB team reported an estimated potential 10 to 1 return on investment of the UAB cancer navigation program.

These cost savings are important. "Bundled payments are coming -- transferring risk and financial burden to providers," said Edward Partridge, MD, director of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. "It is necessary to transition from fee-for-service thinking, and prepare our physicians and hospital delivery systems for performance-based payment models.

"The Guideway Care program positions cancer centers to be on the forefront of this movement while differentiating themselves with an outstanding patient experience."

In fact, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' independent third-party assessors found a significant improvement in satisfaction among patients.

 
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