If you are a Medicare Patient with a cancer diagnosis you may be eligible to participate in our Oncology Care Model Program. This program was created by Medicare in order to improve cancer care for patients on active chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or hormonal therapy. At Cancer Center of Middle Georgia our goal is to provide care for every aspect regarding your cancer journey.
Components of Patient-Centered Care
The Oncology Care Model is a Medicare Initiative that works with oncology practices to improve cancer care for patients receiving chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and hormonal therapy. The model was created by CMS (Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services) and began in 2016 providing additional services and resources for oncology practices and cancer patients.
CCMG uses these resources to give you access to patient-focused services such as patient navigation, financial counseling, advance care planning counseling, spiritual counseling, social work, psychosocial support, and patient education. We believe that providing these extra services allows more opportunity for patient engagement.
The Oncology Care Model also focuses on shared decision making between you and your physician. We will describe the benefits and harms of your treatment and work to make a detailed care plan that fits your needs. We include within the care plan secondary prevention and lifestyle modifications to reduce your chance of reoccurrence.
How does the Oncology Care Model benefit me as a cancer patient?
We believe that expanded access to the cancer care team is so vitally important that we provide it to all of our patients. We have an on-call nurse and on-call physician available at all times to answer questions, concerns, and manage any symptoms or side effects you are experiencing. We also offer symptom management Infusions on weekends such as Fluids, Infuvite etc. If you are experiencing severe dehydration, diarrhea, or vomiting, call our on-call nurse to arrange immediate symptom management at 478-272-8266. Also, please call us prior to making a decision to go to the Emergency Room. This is a standard that has shown to decrease overall cancer related costs for our patients.
Your first few visits with your physician are vitally important in creating an open dialogue about your treatment plan options. As your Physician explains their recommendations for treatment be sure to discuss any questions or preferences you may have. Our physicians and mid-levels are here to discuss any and all concerns.
We believe that patient education improves a patient’s outlook regarding their treatment. You will be offered a “chemo-teaching” for your upcoming chemotherapy or immunotherapy treatment. This consists of a 30-45 minute appointment with your infusion nurse and your physician or mid-level practitioner. You will learn more about your specific diagnosis, the benefits and side effects of your treatment, ways to manage the symptoms of your diagnosis, and ways to manage the side-effects of your treatment. You will also meet with your Patient navigator who will help guide you through your journey from diagnosis into survivorship. A formal chemo-teaching ensures that you have ample time to address any questions you, your family, or your caregivers have regarding your treatment plan.
We are here to help navigate through the financial aspects of your cancer journey. Our financial counselor is here to help with any questions regarding insurance, copay, out-of-pocket costs, and billing. We also assist with applications for financial assistance. If you are struggling to pay for your cancer treatment(s) ask about setting up an appointment with your financial counselor.
We understand that navigating through your cancer journey can be confusing and overwhelming at times. You will be assigned a Patient Navigator to help guide you through the questions that arise during your cancer journey. They can assist in finding resources such as wigs, post-mastectomy items, transportation, financial assistance, psychosocial health, access to clinical trials, and supplementary patient education. They can also assist in coordinating needed preferences in appointment times, referrals, and provide telehealth services. Patient Navigation ensures smooth transitions and access to the resources you need.
You will be given a bi-annual depression screening in order for us to monitor your psychosocial health. If you are already seeing a mental health provider then you are exempt from this monitoring. Depression Screenings allow us to determine if you are displaying symptoms of depression and if they are diagnosis related or fatigue related. We can refer patients as needed to mental health providers and provide symptom relief for patients experiencing depression that is related to diagnosis. We have a monthly support group that meets the last Saturday of every month for patients who are interested in receiving psychosocial and side-effect management support. Our on-site Spiritual counselor will be with you every step of the way to motivate you to follow your curative treatment plans, as well as provide expert counsel for your overall well being.
Our physicians are trained to assist in advising patients with lifestyle modifications that can reduce your risk of recurrence. This includes smoking cessation, referrals to exercise professionals, and referrals to dieticians. We also continuously monitor NCCN guidelines for secondary prevention measures and may place you on maintenance therapy to prevent your cancer from coming back. Talk to your care team during your chemo-teaching or during your survivorship visit to learn more.
In the event that you are medically incapable of making decisions for yourself, do you have someone you trust who can make medical decisions for you? Do you have important spiritual values that have an impact on your treatment preferences? Our staff can counsel you regarding these questions and help you create a legal document that protects your treatment preferences and controls who can make medical decisions for you. Having these legal documents ready can ensure that your family members and healthcare staff are aware of all your wishes. Our cancer center provides a comprehensive guide called “5 wishes” that can help assist you in making these decisions. We can also provide the standard Georgia Advance Care Directives documents.
What does the Oncology Care Model mean for my community cancer center?
Cancer Center of Middle Georgia is the only practice in the Middle Georgia area participating in the Oncology Care Model. Since being accepted to participate in the Oncology Care Model in 2016, we have met and exceeded Quality Measure thresholds and received performance-based payment for three out for five performance periods. In order to receive performance-based payment, a practice must first meet their performance measures and secondly reduce the overall cancer costs of their Medicare Beneficiaries. This performance-based payment from Medicare funds the program in order to provide the additional services we provide for our patients. A very low percentage of practices participating in the Oncology Care Model have achieved performance-based payment at this level of consistency.
As drug costs continue to increase, practices have found it difficult to decrease overall treatment costs. Our care team works hard to prevent repeated lab testing/scans, provide financial assistance, provide 24/7 symptom-management, recommend alternative biosimilars, and give access to cutting edge clinical trials in order to decrease these costs. Your community cancer center is able to provide quality care at lower costs for Laurens County and its neighboring counties due to these additional quality measures we continue to implement.
Patient Satisfaction is also measured within this model. CMS releases a survey to all Oncology Model Care Participants to measure their overall satisfaction with their care at our cancer center. Excitingly, our patients have reported to CMS an overall survey score average of 9/10. In addition to this, we provide internal surveys to our patients. This creates a continuous feedback loop that ultimately helps us increase overall patient satisfaction as our patient population continues to grow.
Thank you for placing your trust in our cancer care team as we continue to provide patient-centered, quality care.