Advances in cancer care have reached unprecedented milestones, but these achievements come at significantly high costs.1 Disorganized and uncoordinated care can harm patients and contributes to unsustainable expenses. The CMS Innovation Center is addressing these issues with financial incentives under the Oncology Care Model (OCM) umbrella that aims to provide higher quality and more coordinated oncology care at a lower cost to Medicare beneficiaries receiving chemotherapy.2
The way that oncology care is organized influences both outcomes and expenses. Although a definitive answer on the ideal care delivery model is uncertain, the Lean approach is an increasingly popular strategy to delivering healthcare. Lean management is an approach to running an organization that supports the concept of “continuous improvement”; a long-term approach to work that systematically seeks to achieve small, incremental changes in processes to improve efficiency and quality while reducing cost and waste.
The Lean approach did not originate in healthcare and may not be the best way to improve the care of complex oncology patients; however, it may be the best method that exists today. Given the challenges oncologists face today, they should be familiar with Lean and consider how the principles and methods can help their practice.
Schnipper LE, Davidson NE, Wollins DS et al.. American Society of Clinical Oncology statement: a conceptual framework to assess the value of cancer treatment options. J Clin Oncol 2015;33:2563–2577.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Health Care Innovation Awared. Available at: https://innovation.cms.gov/initiatives/Health-Care-Innovation-Awards/. Accessed January 24, 2017.