CREATING A MO DEL OF CARE
Cancer Center R eceives $15-Mil
B Y J O S H T I L L
HEALTH CARE in the United S
tates is a hot t opic. In
2010, health ex penditures in t
he country nea red $2.6
trillion more t han 10 times c
omparable leve ls in
1980. Analysts expect this tre
nd to endure a s costs
continue to gro w faster than n
ational income .
Addressing this problem is a m
ajor policy prio r-
ity for both par ties in governm
ent and will req uire
collaboration w ith interests th
roughout the p rivate
and public sect ors not least o
f which is the h ealth-
care industry. T hanks to a new
three-year, $1 5-mil-
lion federal gra nt, the UAB Co
mprehensive C ancer
Center will mak e a major contr
ibution by help ing to
create a nation al model for de
creasing the co st of
WARREN SMEDLEY, M.S.H.A
The service line director for cancer and gastroin- testinal services at the UAB Health System.
AN INNOVATIVE CHALLENGE Since launching the UAB Cancer Care
Network in June 2011, the Cancer Center has explored ways to collaborate more effectively with its affiliate hospitals. In its early stages, the net- work offered affiliates a consulting arrangement wherein the Cancer Center offered expertise and access to clinical trials to patients on a local level. As the network has grown, the center has begun exploring ways to work with affiliates more closely on patient-care issues, such as offering remote sec- ond opinions, teleconference-based genetic coun- seling and concierge referral services.
A potential solution to this issue arrived in November 2011, when UAB received a notice that funding would be available from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for its Health Care Innovation Challenge Awards. When Cancer Center and UAB Medicine leadership met to discuss options for funding proposals, one area stood apart from the rest. Historically what we ve done exceptionally well is patient navigation, says Warren Smedley, M.S.H.A., service line direc- tor for cancer and gastrointestinal services at the UAB Health System. We ve had great success with the Deep South Network and the Integrated
Multidisciplinary Cancer Care Program, among others. We ve talked about taking those successes and blending them into one program to train our affiliate locations how to do patient navigation.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services were looking for three solutions from potential grant recipients: ways to improve the overall health of the population, ways to improve the health-care delivery process and ways to lower costs. The grant also required an economic devel- opment component a fairly sizeable number of people would have to be hired, many of them outside the traditional scope of health-care profes- sionals. CMS didn t want us to just go out and hire doctors and nurses to re-create what we ve already done, Mr. Smedley says. They wanted something new and innovative a new approach that would train a new type of workforce to serve the health-care institution.
Initially, UAB submitted six proposals to CMS, which received a total of nearly 8,000 letters of intent from institutions across the country. About 3,000 actually submitted applications, and from those, CMS awarded 107 awards, with only four projects involving cancer.
2 U A B C O M P R E H E N S I V E C A N C E R C E N T E R