The American Oncology Network has started trading on Nasdaq with the goal of continuing the growth of the organization.
The American Oncology Network (AON), which provides community oncologists with access to resources to elevate the level of care through a patient-centered approach, has started trading on Nasdaq with the goal of continuing the growth of the organization, according to Stephen “Fred” Divers, MD.
Founded in 2018, the AON encompasses more than 200 providers in over 75 clinics and provides practices in its network access to services including specialty pharmacy, laboratory and pathology, radiation therapy, and imaging. The network serves approximately 450,000 patients and started trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market LCC on September 21, 2023.
“The platform [of] the AON provides physicians and nurse practitioners the ability to escalate their level of care and function at a level that would be on par with any academic center from the standpoint of services provided, but [it] keeps that care closer to home for patients,” Divers explained in an interview with OncLive®. “Being part of Nasdaq should resonate with all of our customers and patients throughout the country as we expand this network to improve access, quality, and cost efficiency [of care]; care delivered in the community is typically more cost effective and associated with higher patient satisfaction scores.”
In the interview, Divers, the chief medical officer at the AON and a medical oncologist at the Genesis Cancer and Blood Institute in Hot Springs, Arkansas, discussed the addition of the AON to the Nasdaq and the implications it will have for community oncologists.
Divers: [Genesis Cancer and Blood Institute] joined the AON in 2018 because of a desire to be part of something bigger and to make sure that we were providing the highest level of care possible for our patients. [My institution is located] in a relatively rural area in Arkansas and there were not always opportunities to have access to elite level care, so being part of a larger organization provided us with the ability to escalate the level of care through the AON platform.
Since we joined AON, it’s been a huge success from the standpoint of our business—our volumes have increased significantly, both on [the] patient side and on [the] provider [side]. Recruitment has increased, our footprint coverage has increased, and patient satisfaction has increased.
There are approximately 13,000 oncologists scattered throughout the United States and most are in small- to medium-sized practices. To have the scale necessary to obtain access to [a] full complement of laboratory/pathology and background support services—including next-generation sequencing and data analytic capabilities—probably exceeds the capacity for most typical community oncology practices across the country.
The AON provides the footprint for all those services through some centralization [as well as] scale; it allows individual practices throughout our 19 states in the country to have access to that level of dedicated hematopathology or high complexity laboratories, data analytics and incorporation, as well as our care support team for patients.
The AON was put together in 2018 and it initially started with 10 oncologists [from] our practice and another in Louisiana. We had a desire to create this network and expand it nationally so that oncologists in the community would have access to a more sophisticated level of practicing medicine. We had rapid growth over the subsequent 5 years and an opportunity came forward where we would be able to bring the company public through a business combination agreement with a special purpose acquisition company. It felt like at that time it afforded the capital and the opportunity to grow our footprint nationally through the business combination agreement. It was an opportunity that came forward, we elected to pursue it, and based on what we see, we expect significant growth going forward as a result.
We view ourselves as a very patient-centric organization—everything we decide on the medical side from the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee to data analytics and informatics, pathology, and laboratory/clinical decision support for our providers and our patients, [is with the intent of] remaining patient focused.
As long as we keep that focus and keep that message at the center, that’s going to resonate. I have often said 2 of the more difficult things in life are getting in and out of airports and in and out of medical facilities. If we can assist in the digital transformation of health care in the oncology front and make that a very high-quality experience for our patients, the Nasdaq should help us to escalate that and expand that oncology network throughout the country, improving access for a number of patients.
The everyday oncologist is pretty busy—they’re torn between rounding at the hospital, seeing patients in clinic, trying to get data and documentation into the electronic record, [and] keeping abreast of the latest data that’s out there from a therapeutic standpoint. The AON provides a significant framework and background for the day-to-day operations, whether it be billing, collecting, and supportive IT services, but it also [helps oncologists] access those more complex services that perhaps they couldn’t have in house— whether it be complex imaging, radioligands, radio therapeutics, and significant data analytic capability.
Seeing what the AON did as an affiliation of practices that started in 2 states and has expanded to 19 states and over 200 providers over 5 years, there’s clearly a value add there. I would certainly invite [oncologists] to take a look and see how this may help them become more patient centric and hopefully more efficient in their day-to-day practice delivering what we feel in the community is the most important care for these patients going through a very difficult time in their life.
We don’t have a set directive or goal for what our recruitments may be. There’s an addressable market that’s out there, the oncology community is somewhat large and fragmented between academic institutions and community settings. Our vision and mission are to be patient centric and to provide the necessary tools and resources for our providers to deliver the highest quality of care possible for our patients regardless of their location whether that be rural or in the larger metropolitan areas.
I’ve been a member of the community oncology alliance board for a number of years, and I believe that the most cost-effective care is typically delivered in the community. I have [had] multiple conversations with my colleagues at academic institutions regarding patient care, and we do work well with them, but I think patients want to remain in the communities where they live and work [to also] be supported by people in those communities.
The value proposition that is community oncology is a very strong story and if we can provide the technology, data, informatics, and structural framework for community oncology practices to continue to thrive in those areas, we’re therefore being very patient centric and providing the right level of care for our patients.
American Oncology Network and Digital Transformation Opportunities Corp. announce completion of business combination. News release. GlobeNewswire. September 20, 2023. Accessed November 21, 2023. https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2023/09/20/2746817/0/en/American-Oncology-Network-and-Digital-Transformation-Opportunities-Corp-Announce-Completion-of-Business-Combination.html