Advanced Practitioners Improve Oncology Care Value

Deborah Abrams Kaplan
Published: Sunday, Jan 12, 2020
Bruce A. Feinberg, DO

Bruce A. Feinberg, DO

The aging of the baby boomer population— those born in the 2 decades after World War II—and the growing number of cancer survivors have created a huge demand for oncology treatment services. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has compounded the need by ratcheting up standards for value-based care. To handle these additional needs, many oncology practices now turn to advanced practice providers (APPs), typically nurse practitioners or physician assistants, who are highly trained and capable of taking over many of the routine functions of the oncology clinic.

Having APPs see patients has enabled some practices to double the number of patient visits while providing continuity of care in case of physician illness or absence, according to oncologists interviewed for this article.

Figure 1. Personnel Hired by Oncology Practices to Accommodate Value-Based Care1 (Click to Enlarge)

When Federico Sanchez, MD, a hematologist and oncologist at Aurora Health Care of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was on leave for knee surgery, his APPs managed his patient care. Aurora Health Care provides oncology services in 16 hospitals and 22 clinics across a 10-county area and has roughly 40 APPs supporting its oncologists amid rising demand for services.

At Aurora, the APPs share the outpatient care caseload with Sanchez and his physician colleagues. Patients alternate between seeing a physician and an APP. Sanchez continues to review all scans and tumor marker results, sees patients to discuss those results, and determines their therapy plans. When his services are not needed, the APPs can step in. “We’re looking to the APPs for maintenance visits,” he said.

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