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Taking On Tough Challenges in Radiation Oncology

With spending on cancer care climbing at an annual rate of 15 percent, government and commercial payers are determined to slow the cost curve. The resulting reimbursement cuts compel cancer centers to find more efficiencies. Little wonder then that half of all community cancer centers have put a freeze on hiring and more than a quarter have cut staff.

Two-thirds of all cancer patients receive radiation therapy, so the rapid rise in its complexity and cost has payers targeting radiation oncology. Concerned about both the appropriateness and costs of radiation therapy, payers are imposing precertification according to their own standards of care and treatment guidelines. That brings more external controls on how you treat patients and lengthens the revenue cycle while adding to your administrative burdens and costs.

And today nearly 5,000 linear accelerators are in place at hospitals and cancer centers across the country. That makes for tough competition and no easy answers for sustaining and growing patient volume.

Now the national news media has put the spotlight on patient safety. With reports of one in twenty patients suffering injuries from radiation therapy side effects and mistakes, more outside scrutiny is inevitable. And with so many different professional organizations putting forth new programs, the landscape of quality and accreditation initiatives is unsettled and confusing.