Something’s Gotta Give

Mike Hennessy
Published: Monday, May 16, 2016
Mike Hennessy

OncLive Chairman,
Mike Hennessy

Value-based care is becoming a new catch phrase in American medicine, especially in the oncology arena. But seldom do we see as clear and compelling an explanation of what that might mean in oncology as we did recently at the 1st Annual School of Gastrointestinal Oncology that Physicians’ Education Resource (PER) hosted in New York City on April 23.

In his opening address, Georgetown University’s John L. Marshall, MD, detailed some of the “inconvenient truths” nagging at the oncology field today. Although progress is certainly being made, drug approvals still take 17 years from concept to approval and rising costs are out of proportion to the improvement in outcomes.

Notably, most patients today are being treated according to guidelines—which means they are not receiving the promising new therapies in development and their experiences are not helping to move cancer care forward.

As the established consumption model of cancer care changes, Marshall believes oncology specialists will have to start analyzing therapies based on the clinical value they would deliver in terms of measurable outcome balanced against the costs of that drug.

More significantly, however, Marshall discussed the importance of truly establishing precision medicine as a method of operation in delivering cancer care at more affordable prices. He gave a glimpse of what this might look like in practice in a diagram reproduced as part of our coverage of his presentation in this issue of OncologyLive, entitled “A Call to Action in GI Cancers.”

The model of profiling tumors for molecular biomarkers and then using that information to evaluate potential new therapies should apply not only to laboratory research but also to clinical practice, Marshall maintained.

“This is how I want to be treated,” he said. “…And I think if you asked all of our cancer patients, this is how they want to be treated. They’re ready for it and we need to build an infrastructure that enables this.”

Marshall’s vision is an inspiring one. Change is surely coming in this most dynamic of healthcare fields, and we who care about the quality of cancer care must join leaders such as Marshall in examining and supporting new ways to deliver that care.

Please let us know your thoughts on these matters and, as always, thank you for reading.


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