My Takeaways from the ACCC 32nd National Conference

Robert D. Orzechowski, MBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Chief Operating Officer, Lancaster Cancer Center, Lancaster, PA
Portland, OR, was the site of the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC)’s “How To” conference for the entire cancer care team. More than 600 attendees embraced the opportunity to network and follow 2 tracks of programming on October 21-23, 2015. ACCC’s President, Steven L. D’Amato, BSPharm, RPh, BCOP, has pursued a refocusing on community practice as an important part of his mission, which was reflected in the conference programs. The “Patients Track” and “Program Track” offered many sessions on practical tactics and strategies to advance your specific cancer program and improve your patients’ experience through their cancer journey. A 1-day preconference program allowed attendees who are new to oncology to hear from experienced practitioners; members of the Oncology Pharmacy Education Network took advantage of this day to meet, exchange ideas, and hear about limited distribution models, bundled-payment system impact, and the pharmacist’s role in alternative payment models.

Practical Takeaways

If your management challenges in your cancer center are anything like mine, I know you would have found much value from the following aspects of the meeting:
  • Gaining valuable insight from more than 25 quality presentations on relevant and current trends in oncology, such as designing collaborative practice models and marketing to strengthen your referral network
  • Sharing the acquired, practical, and timely information with your colleagues upon your return to the workplace
  • The opportunity for as broad networking with others involved in the delivery of cancer care as you would find anywhere
  • Conversations with more than 60 vendors about the latest innovations in oncology medications, products, and services.

Value-Based Drug Pricing

Featured speaker Peter B. Bach, MD, MAPP, Director of the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York City, stimulated the audience with his presentation titled “Patient Access and the Cost of Cancer Care Across Specialties.” A physician, epidemiologist, researcher, and influential healthcare policy expert, Dr Bach’s work focuses on the cost and value of anticancer drugs. Dr Bach’s presentation led us all to an increased understanding of the US drug development and pricing processes, and provided a vision of new models for drug pricing that includes value for patients as a critical component for selecting appropriate therapies. As the cost of specialty drugs continues to grow, Dr Bach argues, drug prices are no longer rational; a better pricing system could increase patient access to life-saving medications at lower costs, while also spurring innovation. As I listened to his presentation, I could not help but recall lessons I learned in business school about pricing—the price of a commodity is a function of cost, value, and competition. I was also thinking how government involvement impacts drug pricing.

Biosimilars

Having a nonclinical role, and being intimately involved in contracting, financial modeling, and operations for Lancaster Cancer Center, I found the presentation “Institutional Review of Biosimilars” especially useful. This session was led by Jim M. Koeller, MS, Clinical Professor, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio. We can expect significant growth in the area of biosimilars, Mr Koeller stated, because 66% of the drugs currently in development are biologics. Furthermore, 11 major drugs will be losing their patent in the next 9 years. Mr Koeller made the point that newer technology and processes ensure the production of high-quality biosimilars. He reviewed relevant laws, including the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, to identify differences and similarities in the application and approval processes for biologics and biosimilars. Furthermore, Mr Koeller described:
  • The role of the pharmacist in the formulary approval process, and what function the pharmacy and therapeutics (P&T) committee plays
  • What specifically the P&T committee should review as part of the biosimilar approval process in their formulary reviews
  • Where the United States currently stands regarding biosimilar approval.
Continuing medical education and continuing nursing education credits were available for conference participation; in addition, crediting approval was pending for the National Association of Social Workers.

Green and Mobile

This conference was “green” and “mobile.” Hard copy documents were limited, and an application for smartphones and tablets served as a 1-stop shop for all conference information, presentation materials, attendee feedback, maps, social media, and much more.

Mark Your Calendar

The ACCC’s next meeting is the annual meeting, “CANCERSCAPE,” which will take place March 2-4, 2016, in Washington, DC. Mark the date on your calendar, because the programming task force is already working on that program, which is certain to deliver significant value for anyone involved in oncology practice management. In addition to annual conference programming, ACCC also sponsors year-round meetings on reimbursement as well as clinical topics. The organization also manages several initiatives aimed at recognizing those who work diligently to:
  • Improve community cancer care
  • Conduct research
  • Identify future trends in oncology.
ACCC presents Innovator Awards and prepares white papers on topics such as the integration of services, organizations, and their technology, and the Institute for the Future of Oncology. This is indeed an exciting time to be engaged in this industry and clinical space, and the entire conference complemented attendees’ needs for growth, expression, and reflection on community cancer care and operations. For more information, visit www.accc-cancer.org.

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