PO Box 409095
Chicago, IL 60640
Length: 7 minutes, 18 seconds
Interviewer: Jessica Zigmond, reporter for Modern Healthcare and Modern Physician
Interviewee: Dr. Edward George, president, Cancer Centers of Virginia
[00:00:08] Womans Voice: Welcome to this edition of Special Report Extra brought to you by Modern Healthcare and powered by Martopia. With each edition of Special Report Extra, listeners hear directly from key healthcare executives involved in the major events shaping the industry.
[00:00:29] Jessica Zigmond: Hello, my name is Jessica Zigmond and Im a reporter for Modern Healthcare and Modern Physician. Today were talking with Dr. Edward George, president of Cancer Centers of Virginia about oncology services. Thank you, Dr. George, for being with us today. What are some of the primary reasons why hospitals and health systems today are choosing to outsource their cancer service program?
[00:00:50] Edward George: Sure. One is the complexity of therapies in cancer care; multi-modality treatments, new drugs, more scientific and strategic methods of administering radiation therapy. With this complex background of developing esoteric and difficult to comprehend therapies that are evolving each day, each month, and the delivery system which needs to have synergies, many hospitals and health systems are looking to others who make this their profession to create this program for them three decades ago. Exquisite cancer care was administered only in major institutions and patients had to travel long ways to do this. Over the last 30 years cancer care has evolved into communities as the country has trained and produced a number of oncologists who formerly were at institutions and now have gone into communities and carried that expertise to the local level. Hospitals and health systems realized that there is a reimbursement minefield that exists that, as the new therapies which are very costly develop and become prevalent covering the costs of these through obtaining adequate third-party payment, is becoming an ever more difficult and challenging area.
And then I think theres also the recognition that synergy with physicians who are community leaders and who have developed professional practices that deliver this care as their primary focus allows them to obtain this without recreating the wheel, so to speak. These physicians then become, in our situation, which I can describe for you, we become the managers of the cancer program administering it as well as ensuring its quality and growth.
[00:02:55] Jessica Zigmond: Yes. You mentioned that, and I was hoping you could describe to that and your partnership with Centera Healthcare that youve had since 2004 and why you think this has been an effective model.
[00:03:07] Edward George: It has been effective for us, and it was borne out of necessity. We came together as co-equals in this process. And our goal was to develop and grow and manage and the physicians to monitor for quality of this cancer program. Centera put their name on it, and we can put our names on it because we both come to this with the same intention, and that is to create something new. We became the overseers of the cancer program in the sense that Virginia oncologist associates then becomes participants in strategic planning for cancer care. We are also the overseers of the quality program, so-called clinical effectiveness committee which is very active, meets regularly, and takes various clinical parameters and creates the need to improve these and pushes these along so that quality if constantly monitored and improved over time. And weve also created a research alliance in which we are now prospectively looking at a tissue-based program in which we, as the cancer managers, engage other physicians in the community. And with Centeras help put together a program that going forward will obtain tissue, test it for prognostic indicators, and then test chemotherapy agents and other forms of therapy. We co-own several [unintelligible] accelerators with the system, and this becomes part of the financial basis of it. We have two free-standing cancer centers that are not attached to hospitals, although we do participate in the hospitals, as well. And theres a third under construction at this time.
So for all those reasons borne out of the necessity to venture together to create cost savings and lack of duplication has been a system which I think ends up that the final result is actually greater than the sum of all of its parts because it has produced the quality initiative that would not have previously existed as far as we can tell.
[00:05:23] Jessica Zigmond: Finally, I was hoping to get a perspective from you on what we can expect in the cancer service segment in the future.
[00:05:30] Edward George: Science is producing a tremendously-increasing number of therapy options. I will see an increase in life span, and well see cures within the next 10 to 20 years that we never would have expected. The rate of development of information that is practical and implementable is geometric. But with these developments comes the costs to produce them. I think its estimated that, for instance, with just one chemotherapy agent the cost to bring that drug from its very earliest stages of development to market ranges between $850 million and $1 billion. And this is a great distinction from what it was 30 years ago when oncology was born as a subspecialty. Back then there were very few agents. Many patients diseases were never even considered for therapy. The costs became lessened, in some instances, when drugs became generic and there were very few newcomers to replace them. But this climate has changed tremendously thanks to science.
[00:06:41] Jessica Zigmond: Well, thank you, Dr. George, for your perspective today. This has been Jessica Zigmond with Modern Healthcare and ModernPhysicians, and Ive been talking with Dr. Edward George, president of Cancer Centers of Virginia.
[00:06:55] Edward George: My pleasure, thank you.
[00:06:57] Womans Voice: Thank you for listening to this edition of Special Report Extra brought to you by Modern Healthcare and powered by Martopia. Listen to other editions of Special Report Extra by visiting the multimedia section of Modern Healthcare Online at modernhealthcare.com.