Introducing the Third Annual Conference of the Association for Value-Based Cancer Care

Burt Zweigenhaft, BS
Managing Partner, Upstream Partners; Co-Founder and Chairman, AVBCC

As we know, the American healthcare system is going through exorbitant changes, changes that will affect all providers and all stakeholders in the cancer care ecosystem. The goal of the Association for Value-Based Cancer Care (AVBCC) is to bring together all of the cancer care stakeholders in one unified meeting to discuss the many issues facing us today. One of the main objectives of the AVBCC Annual Conference is to be able to map out and help guide our members and attendees through the various changes in the US healthcare system.

Changes in Reimbursement and Purchasing

We are at an inflection point in cancer drug distribution and management. We are seeing the typical wholesaler-to-physician channel control change rapidly. Managed market payers are stepping up and exerting more control over what happens in oncologist offices. The landscape is changing in terms of reimbursement and their contracting capabilities as managed market payers are responding as we experiment and move into an accountable care organization (ACO) world.

It is very important that the AVBCC Annual Conference convenes an agenda and forum to guide and mentor people through the changes, and to be able to inflect strong opinions and to encourage people to participate in helping flush out important changes in the chain to ensure that we can impact change in a very positive way.

It is no longer the traditional wholesaler-to-physician group purchasing organization (GPO) model in this business today. This is rapidly changing as managed market payers, control and oversight of cancer care are taking hold and are influencing the outcomes of decisions, pathways, formulas, reimbursement, and prior authorization.

It is very important that your staff gets to meet and see all of the stakeholders and decision makers in this chain of rapidly changing events that impact cancer care today. Without that, you and your organization are not going to be prepared for the market changes, and the impact on your brand could be tremendous.

Then again, if you attend the meeting and you observe and understand the changes, enter into the discussion and debate, and lastly, you have the foresight to plan for the changes, you will be more successful in the long-run.

An All-Inclusive Agenda

We have an all-inclusive agenda. It allows us in the mornings, over the couple of days that we meet, to have all the “big-ticket” topics discussed by some of the greatest thought leaders—the people who are driving change in the oncology space today—whether it is regulatory, reimbursement, coverage, policy, benefits, healthcare systems, hospital systems, or the large community practices that are changing the way we operate in cancer care.

This allows all of the stakeholders, main issues, and agendas to be discussed in an open forum. We have panels, channel experts, and key opinion leaders. This is important; you never see such a mix in this business. Our afternoon tracks allow you to have breakouts, depending on whether it is reimbursement, genetics, product launch, pathways, or care management that is important to you. These are all separate tracks that allow you and your staff to move around with flexibility in the afternoon, and to make sure that everyone covers the wide array of topics that we have available to enjoy and learn from.

We all know how important networking is. I know that we are in an e-mail and health information exchange market. But meeting key opinion leaders and exchanging in open dialogue, and being able to sit with them at lunch, at breakfast, or in between sessions and hear what their thoughts are, is very important.

This is the only conference where the key people in the channel are at the meeting, and are available for you to meet and to have personal time with them. There is no better way to get ahead and to stay ahead in cancer care than to be at the AVBCC Annual Conference in its third year, in Hollywood, FL.

This is your chance to see some of the greatest key opinion leaders, the people who are truly driving change in cancer care today.

Meeting Key Opinion Leaders

Who are these key opinion leaders specifically? For the most part, they are the medical directors of the big insurance plans, the ones who are leading the change in cancer care, whether in Medicare, Medicaid, or in commercial plans. We have certain leaders that you may recognize, because you have read about them frequently in many publications, including the association’s publication—Value-Based Cancer Care. We have coding experts. We have advocacy experts. We have policy experts. This is why the AVBCC Annual Conference is a very inclusive meeting, because we bring all the stakeholders together.

When we put together the agenda, our goal was to make sure that we had the right people, the right health plans, the right health systems, and the right leaders. We did not want to see ourselves with another small, myopic view of this industry. We knew that the only way to effect change in a positive way was to get everyone and every voice in the room together to share information. That is the overall goal of the AVBCC Annual Conference—inclusiveness.

I have always believed that it is very important to meet face to face with the key people who are driving change in the business. One of the goals of our association is to make sure that we have a cast that includes everyone who is leading that change. We have people from Aetna, and people from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. We have people from hospital systems, such as the “Roswells” and the “Dana-Farbers” of the world. We have employer groups and coalitions, such as Caterpillar, Delta, the National Business Group on Health, UnitedHealthcare, and many others.

The goal of the AVBCC Annual Conference is to bring them all together to make sure that we all have access to each other and that we could share ideas in an open forum and help chart the future of cancer care in America. This is why you want to be with us at this meeting, and this is why you need to have your staff attend the conference.

This is the only meeting I am aware of that affords this type of inclusive venue, where everyone in the space can get to meet those important leaders who are driving change in cancer care.

One of the most important things that we know is changing is the distribution model, as we are moving from the typical manufacturer to the wholesaler through GPO to community-based or system-based oncologists. As the system is changing, manufacturers are now finding that they are no longer totally dependent on the wholesale channel or on GPOs to make and control the influential buying decisions to drive their products to market. Today it is being heavily influenced by the managed care channels and by payers, coverage and reimbursement decisions.

In this meeting, in addition to having all of the managed market payers represented, we also have the new stakeholders in the distribution channel. We have specialty pharmacies, we have oncology pharmacies, and we have hospital systems and others that are now taking hold of a new distribution model in cancer care.

As this business is changing, what we have done at the AVBCC is to make sure that we have at this Third Annual Conference all of the people who are effecting change, so that they can discuss that change and what it means to the healthcare markets. One of the major challenges that most manufacturers have to address today in the cancer marketplace is now dealing in a comparative world of clinical-
and cost-effectiveness, where evidence is increasingly being weighed to come up with the value-based purchasing proposition.

The “New World” of Healthcare

Part of the mission of the AVBCC is to come up with a formula for value-based purchasing that will include not only clinical elements but economic elements of overall cost as well. Part of our agenda is to make sure that the association can put forth a framework for “value-based purchasing” and the corresponding proper process and formula for evaluating effectiveness so appropriate contracting for cancer drug therapies is in the marketplace.

The timing of the Third AVBCC Annual Conference could not be better. We are coming right off of a national election. We did not know whether ObamaCare was going to last. Now we know that health information exchanges, state exchanges, and the novel products of the “new world” of healthcare are going to take effect and are here to stay, and change is permanent.

Obviously, we are moving from a utilization-focused model to a quality model of healthcare. These changes are going to be dramatic. These issues are part of the agenda of change that we are going to be discussing this year at the AVBCC Annual Conference in the various segments and forums.

Community- versus Hospital-Based Care

Also at this year’s AVBCC Annual Conference, we are going to explore one of the biggest changes in cancer care—the move from community oncology to hospital-based cancer care. We have representatives from the Community Oncology Alliance, the Association of Community Cancer Centers, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and others, who are going to be discussing these changes.

We have seen a tremendous consolidation in the purchase of hematology and oncology practices by hospital systems as they are getting ready for ACO opportunities. This is going to have a dramatic impact on our marketplace. We are going to explore this critical change in depth in some of the sessions. Anyone who is involved in this oncology space must know what is going on, and must be able to predict the new models of distribution and service, given the consolidation and the changes in cancer care as we go forward.

Personalized Medicine

Personalized medicine is probably going to be launched through cancer care. Why? Because cancer is so expensive, and all of the molecular tests that can really make a difference in clinical utility and driving change are going to be the companion diagnostics to cancer care. Thus, given the effect on comparative, effectiveness research and the value-based approach of cancer care purchasing, the economics around personalized medicine makes economic sense to embrace beyond the quality drivers.

This is a hugely important topic, and it is part of our agenda at the Third Annual Conference of AVBCC, where we have experts who will be speaking on the impact of personalized medicine, companion diagnostics, and molecular pathways as we move forward in improving patient care in America.

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