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Save the Date! NCCN Patient Advocacy Summit to Explore Patient Perspectives of Value in Cancer Care

By Jessica K. DeMartino, PhD, Manager, Oncology Policy Program, NCCN

Please join the National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) on Tuesday, December 1, 2015, at The National Press Club in Washington, DC, when NCCN holds its 6th Annual Patient Advocacy Summit: Value in Cancer Care – Patient Perspectives.

This event will provide a forum for discussion of challenges and obstacles that impact and hinder patient access to appropriate care, offer a chance for the oncology community to discuss cost and payment for medical interventions, and provide an opportunity to address how patients define value in cancer care.

Access to appropriate cancer care is of vital importance to all people with cancer and their families. The inability to obtain the right cancer care in a timely manner can have devastating results—medically, psychologically, and financially. Therefore, it is critical that patients have access to provider networks that include oncologists and cancer centers and that these are located in reasonable proximity to the patient. However, to help control costs, many plans limit access to the kinds of specialists cancer patients need, leading to adverse effects on people with cancer and their caregivers.

The Access to Cancer Care segment will feature a keynote address from Loyce Pace, MPH, LIVESTRONG Foundation, followed by a roundtable discussion including the following panelists: Amanda Bennett, author of The Cost of Hope and Washington Post columnist; Bonnie Miller, RN, BSN, OCN, FAAMA, Fox Chase Cancer Center; and Ms. Pace. Network adequacy and access, formulary access, out-of-network referrals, and the resulting high cost sharing are all possible topics for discussion.

While value is often an elusive concept, it is particularly so when applied to cancer care. Most simply, value is usually understood as the outcome when benefits exceed cost. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) defines value as “best care for lower cost.” But, defining benefits and costs relative to cancer care is extremely difficult. Exactly which costs should be considered, and who determines what benefit is? Less expensive care does not contribute to value if the quality of care is insufficient.

Alan Balch, PhD, Patient Advocate Foundation will present a keynote address to commence the summit’s second segment, Defining Value in Cancer Care, followed by a roundtable featuring Dr. Balch; Robert W. Carlson, MD, NCCN; and Shelley Fuld Nasso, National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship. The panel discussion will address current efforts to define value in the treatment of patients with cancer.

The rising cost of cancer care is creating a huge burden on patients and on the U.S. health care system as a whole. Cancer care is expensive and the related expense continues to rise faster than the overall rate of health care expenditures in the United States—more than 15 percent annual vs. three percent. Innovation, which leads to new diagnostics and treatments in oncology and, ultimately, to improved outcomes, also comes at a cost. In particular, drug prices for new treatments are escalating at an alarming rate.

The day’s final roundtable, titled, Cost of Cancer Care and the Patient Impact, will feature Dan Klein, Patient Access Network Foundation; and Leonard Saltz, MD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. The panel will focus on how drug costs, patient assistance programs, indication- and performance-based pricing, and biosimilars are directly impacting people with cancer.

Please continue to check back for updates to the agenda and additional speakers and panelists. For more information and to register for the event, visit NCCN.org/Policy.