Regional Cancer Care Associates (RCCA) has continued its expansion along the East Coast by adding 2 Connecticut-based cancer centers with 6 cancer specialists to its network of independent practices.
RCCA’s network expansion mirrors a growing trend of practices aligning with other independents or joining hospital systems to overcome the challenges of competition, costly care, and changing payment patterns. The group now has 29 locations, anchored by the Hackensack Meridian Health hospital group, and first stepped across state lines in October 2015, when the organization spread from its New Jersey base to Maryland and Washington, DC. It encompasses more than 100 oncologists, 28 advanced practice nurses, 100 registered nurses, and 750 staff members.
RCCA has built itself into a competitive force and claims the ability to do more than 23,000 new patient consults per year. It offers personalized cancer care and works with primary physicians and local hospitals to coordinate treatment. It also includes nonmedical support, such as yoga, spiritual support, and nutritional counseling.
Officials said the new Connecticut partnership fits with RCCA’s mission to provide convenient access to comprehensive, patient-centered treatment, and it comes after a significant amount of activity to strength the oncology program offerings throughout the RCCA network. In June of 2016, Hackensack University Health Network merged with Meridian Health. The resulting entity, Hackensack Meridian Health, has 11 hospitals across New York and New Jersey and is part of the RCCA network.
In December of 2016, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) announced a partnership with Hackensack Meridian Health linking the New Jersey-based providers to the MSK name and brand. While this did not amount to a fresh merger, the two will cobrand many of their operations and will combine in extending cancer care and establishing new treatment facilities in the New Jersey region. They will also cooperate on tumor board reviews and extend targeted cancer therapy and clinical trial offerings to broaden options for patients.
Andre Goy, MD, head of Lymphoma and head of Oncology for Hackensack Meridian Health, said the partnership would enable his group “to embrace the unprecedented changes that are happening in cancer care.” He has said large scale is the answer to the challenges of offering improved care in oncology these days.
In addition, officials said joining RCCA offers smaller cancer centers the potential to become more competitive and cost efficient without having to give up independence by being acquired by large health conglomerates. Edward J. Licitra, MD, PhD, chair of RCCA, said another benefit of RCCA was that practices can participate in CMS’s new Oncology Care Model to improve oncology care and lower costs via financial incentives and patient-centered care. Terrill Jordan, president and CEO of RCCA, cited “unprecedented operational and financial challenges for physicians” and said RCCA was the solution “to help both patient and physician thrive.”
The Connecticut practice that just joined RCCA is Medical Oncology and Blood Disorders. The 6 oncology specialists are Charanjeev S. Kapoor, MD; Joseph F. McLaughlin, MD; Mohammad Pazooki, MD; Michael Reale, MD, PhD, Joel S. Silver, MD; and Joseph G. Sinning, MD. All are medical oncologists and are board certified. They have affiliations with St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, Manchester Memorial Hospital in Manchester, and Rockville General Hospital in Vernon.
In a statement, Reale mentioned the pressure practices face to consolidate and join a larger organization, citing the RCCA as their choice because of its focus on physicians. “At a time when the evolution of healthcare delivery in the United States necessitates that physicians affiliate with larger entities, it was important to me to join a physician-owned and -operated network that reflected my own philosophy of providing comprehensive, compassionate, and personalized care in a setting that supports a strong physician-patient relationship.”
He went on to give a nod to RCCA’s clinical trials program, saying, “My colleagues and I are involved in a number of clinical research projects, and RCCA’s extensive clinical trials program will enable us to continue that vital work and to offer our patients access to a variety of studies and cutting-edge therapies.”
“We look forward to working with our Connecticut-based colleagues to further extend [our] record of outstanding patient care delivered in the community setting,” Licitra said. Jordan added that the Connecticut physicians and RCCA share a commitment in community-based care to maintaining an unwavering focus on patients and the primacy of the physician in clinical decision making.