Keeping a Tight Rein on Unnecessary Expenditures in Oncology Practice

Meir Rinde
Published: Saturday, Jan 27, 2018
Jay T. Bishoff, MD

Jay T. Bishoff, MD
When Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City, Utah, was preparing to spend upward of million on new ventilators in its intensive care unit (ICU) 14 years ago, a few doctors decided to first see if they could improve outcomes of patients placed on the expensive machines. Ventilator settings and blood gas testing protocols, which each physician had been handling differently, were standardized and then periodically adjusted as they observed what worked best.

Avoiding wasteful spending has never been more important, considering the intense pressures to keep costs down and the ever-present risk of having to close down or merge with a larger system. “You want to be as efficient as possible. When you’re facing everdeclining reimbursement from payers, you’ve got to find a way to work smarter and control costs,” said Kari A. Young, who was the executive administrator at Hematology Oncology Associates of Albuquerque, New Mexico, until the practice merged with a hospital last year.

Billing and Ordering Strategies

A natural place to start is drug handling and billing. Kathy Oubre, MS, chief operating officer of Pontchartrain Cancer Center in Louisiana, which has 2 oncologists at 2 offices, said she regularly audits her practice’s billing for discrepancies between the electronic record of drugs pulled from cabinets and the amounts actually billed by nurses.
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