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The US Oncology Network 2017 Annual Conference: Succeeding Together in the New Healthcare Landscape

There is no denying this is a difficult time to be an oncologist. We are in unknown territory with the current political and economic climate. Fortunately, those of us in The US Oncology Network (“The Network”) are not facing today’s challenging environment alone.  We have the expertise and resources of The Network behind us, including the collective knowledge and strength of our 1,400 member physicians.

On April 6-7, The Network, which is a physician-led organization, gathered once again for our annual conference.  This is our biggest event of the year-- a time when our leaders, physicians, clinicians and pharmacists come together to discuss new developments in The Network and critical issues that have an impact on oncology community.

As in past years, the conference was held in conjunction with our P&T physician leadership committees and executive director meetings. A special workshop for new physicians was also held during the conference. New physicians bring fresh ideas and energy to our organization, and we consider their success of the upmost importance.  Bringing together such a wide variety of high-achieving, knowledgeable oncology professionals provides a unique opportunity to network, collaborate and exchange ideas, empowering all of us to succeed while advancing cancer care. 

The theme of our conference this year was “In This Together.” It reflects the passion we have to find the synergies within the many facets of the healthcare ecosystem―uniting independent physicians with payers and manufacturers, enabling and supporting end-to-end efficiency and clinical excellence across the spectrum of cancer care. Together, we are a strong force that can drive solutions to meet emerging challenges, ensuring patients will always have the opportunity to choose quality care in a community setting close to home. Physicians, payers and manufacturers are realizing that by working together, we can succeed together in this ever-changing environment.

During the general session, attendees learned what it means to be “In This Together” from the patient and payer perspective, as our two keynote speakers presented their unique views on the topic:

  • Adrienne Boissy, M.D., M.A., Chief Experience Officer and staff neurologist at the Cleveland Clinic, spoke on transforming the patient experience and asked “do innovations bring us closer to patients or further away?”. Dr. Boissy’s team created a comprehensive program to strengthen provider communication skills and has trained thousands of staff physicians and clinicians.
  • Jennifer Malin, M.D., Ph.D., Senior Medical Director, Oncology and Genetics, UnitedHealthcare,  gave attendees a view of oncology care from the payer perspective. Dr. Malin is widely recognized for her research on the quality of cancer care and is the architect of various cancer care quality programs in use across the insurance industry.

Additionally, we heard from John Goodman, the keynote speaker for our biannual P&T meeting.

  • John Goodman, Ph.D., founder of the Goodman Institute for Public Policy Research, shared his view of likely policy and access changes that are in store for us in the new administration. Widely recognized as an expert in economic policy, Modern Healthcare named Dr. Goodman one of four people in the nation who have most influenced the changes shaping our healthcare system.  

Our Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for The Network, Michael Seiden, M.D., Ph.D., also presented on the importance of Research in The Network as well as his perspective on what it means to be “In This Together.”

Attendees heard from our key leaders who gave us a look at the past, present and future of The Network.  Heather Morel, our Chief Operating Officer, brought us up to date on many of the exciting new initiatives occurring across The Network and those that are in the works, while Kirk Kaminsky, President of The Network, reviewed our accomplishments from the past year, which were substantial. 

In addition to the general session, attendees also had more intimate learning opportunities during our breakout and poster sessions that spotlighted more than a dozen best practices from around The Network.  A wide range of subjects were covered, such as palliative care, proton therapy, MIPS, value-based care contracts, and data-driven patient referrals, to name only a few of the many sessions available.

I think we all came away from the conference energized and with a much better understanding of how critical it is for all stakeholders in the cancer community to work together towards realizing our strengths, finding synergy, and providing true Network-wide support for the delivery of cancer care locally. Looking beyond our own ‘filter bubbles,’ we can find novel solutions and reconfirm the common ground that unites us.

Lucy Langer, M.D.
Practice President, Compass Oncology
Chair, National Policy Board and National Policy Board Executive Committee
The US Oncology Network