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Aetna, The US Oncology Network Provide More Evidence That Clinically Proven, Integrated Cancer Care Enhances Quality And Controls Costs

Aetna (NYSE: AET) and The US Oncology Network recently announced results of their cancer management program. Members in the program had the same or better health outcomes compared to members who were not part of the program. The program effectively decreased emergency room (ER) visits by 39.8 percent, decreased hospital admissions by 16.5 percent and reduced the number of hospital days by 35.9 percent among 184 enrolled members. The program resulted in approximately 12 percent cost savings among lung, breast and colorectal cancers alone. Outcomes of the program were unveiled at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) inaugural Quality Care Symposium held Nov. 30 – Dec. 1 in San Diego.

The program was developed with Innovent Oncology, a business within McKesson Specialty Health that draws upon the expertise and resources developed by The US Oncology Network. Guidelines based on medical evidence and nurses certified in cancer care were used to reduce ER and in-patient admissions. Such reductions lower the cost of cancer treatment and improve care quality. The pilot was available to Aetna members treated by physicians with Texas Oncology, an affiliate of The US Oncology Network, between June 2010 and April of this year.

“We know from our 2010 lung cancer study that using clinical evidence in cancer care leads to the same or better results, with lower costs. I’m pleased that this expanded program provides additional support for members. And it improved the quality of care across many types of cancer,” said Lonny Reisman, M.D., Aetna chief medical officer. “We will continue to work with the medical community to bring this kind of clinical information – and more – into real-time decision making to improve health care and lower costs.”

The Innovent Oncology program supports patients before the first scheduled treatment and continues throughout the course of therapy. Three key components ensure consistency in care, control costs and provide a better experience:
  1. Level I Pathways and Health Information Technology – Guidelines based on evidence direct treatment to clinically proven options that optimize outcomes and minimize side effects. Health information technology gives doctors electronic access to these guidelines and other decision-support resources at the point-of-care.
  2. Patient Support Services –Innovent Oncology’s nurses work with the oncology practices and Aetna’s care management team to provide proactive care to patients. The nurses specialize in cancer care and help manage treatment symptoms and side effects, including depression.
  3. Advance Care Planning – Members have access to end-of-life planning and support, if those hard decisions become necessary. Innovent nurses as well as clinicians from Aetna’s Compassionate Care program who have expertise in end-of-life support offer these services.

“This program helps patients and families face cancer with fewer side effects, less time in treatment and less financial strain,” said J. Russell Hoverman, medical director, Managed Care, The US Oncology Network.

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