Written by Dan Schlacter, senior account supervisor at MP&F Strategic Communications and member of the LHC marketing and communications cohort.

Robin Shah, founding member and chief development and marketing officer for OneOncology, joined Leadership Health Care members at the Nashville Technology Council on May 14. The lunch discussion centered on OneOncology’s mission to “improve the lives of everyone living with cancer.”

Robin’s role at OneOncology focuses on provider development, marketing, strategy, and technology and analytics. His previous experience includes serving as vice president of Provider Marketing and Strategy for Flatiron Health, and as administrator of a comprehensive community cancer center in his hometown of Gettysburg, Pa.

“Let’s build something to keep cancer treatment in the community and provide the best care for patients.”  

OneOncology was developed out of a realization among Robin and colleagues at Flatiron, Tennessee Oncology, New York Blood & Cancer Specialists and West Cancer Center that “if we wanted to maintain the model of keeping [cancer] care close to patients’ homes, we needed to build something to help those physician-owned practices.”

“How does the fee-for-service-based model shift to value-based?”

Beginning with an overview of the oncology sector, Robin described OneOncology’s effort to “connect oncologists to the resources they need to improve quality, reduce costs and transform the patient experience across the continuum of care.”

Robin highlighted oncology’s increasing complexity, which is driven by factors like the participation of multiple physicians and disciplines in each case, and the ongoing shift in the payment landscape from fee-for-service (FFS) to value-based care.

“It is 60 percent less costly to treat a cancer patient in a community oncology practice than to treat that same patient in a hospital.”

Physician-owned oncology practices located in – or convenient to – the communities in which cancer patients live were presented as an answer to questions around a successful transition in oncology from FFS to value-based care.

Robin noted that, five years ago, about 80 percent of cancer patients were treated locally at physician-owned practices. However, in more recent years, cancer patients were increasingly likely to receive hospital-based care. Now, as the maturing transition to value-based care puts more financial pressure on payers and providers, the trend is swinging back toward local physician-owned practices.

“OneOncology positions community oncologists to drive the future of cancer care through a patient-centric, physician-driven and technology-empowered model.”

Robin described how shared data and a common technology platform can enable physician-owned oncology clinics to keep pace with their sector’s increasing complexity, navigate new treatments and optimize their operations to add value to their respective roles in their patients’ overall continuum of care.

Each OneOncology partner practice is onboarded to a common technology platform (powered by Flatiron’s EHR and proprietary analytics software developed by OneOncology), which allows each clinic to benefit from best practices across OneOncology’s network while still maintaining clinical independence and local identity.

“Our partners have access to an analytics platform that measures quality and outcomes in three categories of data: financial, operational and clinical.”

Robin clarified the necessity of incorporating both structured and unstructured data into OneOncology’s backend platform. Due to its common presence as free-text notes, unstructured data presents the greater challenge to collect and translate into actionable recommendations at scale. However, these notes are often where providers log rich, deep clinical data, making it essential to track, analyze and leverage. 

As more clinics begin using OneOncology’s cloud-based platform, each will have access to insights derived from an increasing reference pool of structured and unstructured data. OneOncology will be able to measure, analyze and benchmark patient outcomes and other performance metrics to continue refining recommendations, best practices and local operations.

“We want to build, buy and partner with everyone who touches any part of the continuum of care for cancer patients.”

OneOncology’s vision does not stop with data, analytics and operational support. For example, Robin mentioned the company’s status as the third-largest acquirer of chemotherapy medications as indicative of its efforts to identify and reduce unnecessary variations across the entire cancer treatment regimen.

Robin also described the organizational culture changes that OneOncology can help its partners navigate. For example, as cancer treatment improves, the frequency of patient visits to an oncology clinic is often reduced. Because of the “high-touch” and team-based nature of cancer treatment, the clinic staff can become a patient’s “people.” OneOncology aims to assist its partners in adjusting their operations to account for these types of patient experience changes and challenges, allowing physicians to focus on treating the whole person while being held increasingly responsible for the outcome of the whole case.