Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and Minnesota Oncology Provide Preliminary Results on Value Based Agreement

Two years into contract, data shows care cancer care costs are down by more
than ten percent 

Eagan, Minn. and St. Paul (December 15, 2022)– Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross) and Minnesota Oncology, a practice in The US Oncology Network, today announced preliminary cost and quality results stemming from a value-based contract that went into effect in the fall of 2019. The agreement shifted payment from a traditional model that incentivized volume of transactional care to a value-based approach built on the shared principle that the most effective outcomes for patients are determined by a wholistic approach that includes quality, cost, trend, and patient experience.

Based on an analysis of the first results of available data, the total cost of care for Minnesota Oncology patients with Blue Cross employer group coverage trended more than 10 percent below the Twin Cities oncology market.

The two organizations also cite the efficacy of programs built collaboratively within the agreement, ensuring that patients would receive the most effective and efficient care at the right time for their specific health situation.

A critical aspect of the five-year agreement was the creation of new care coordination initiatives designed to avoid unnecessary trips to the hospital or emergency room, help patients manage side effects of treatment, and have a proactive and defined role in their care plans. For patients with employer group coverage, emergency visits and inpatient admissions decreased during the initial period.

Minnesota Oncology care coordinators reach out to all Blue Cross patients who are starting a new IV chemotherapy regimen. The care coordinators stay connected with patients throughout treatment with support throughout their cancer journey. 

“Cancer patients face a big challenge when it comes to the cost of quality, comprehensive care,” said John Schwerkoske, MD, President and medical oncologist at Minnesota Oncology. “Under this agreement with Blue Cross, we now have encouraging evidence that our model works. It is possible to offer state-of-the-art therapies, precision medicine, genetic testing, palliative care, and access to clinical trials while lowering overall costs. These initial results further encourage our efforts in working with Blue Cross to ensure all patients can have access to high-quality care that is close to home.”

"The early successes of this agreement, along with the collaborative spirit of both organizations, is continuing to grow with a desire to evolve and further improve the model,” said Eric Hoag, Vice President of Provider Relations at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. “We are pleased to be adding three new Quality measures in 2023 which include social determinants.”

Under the five-year agreement, Minnesota Oncology is responsible for ensuring continued alignment with evidence-based best practices that go beyond traditional clinical care, including social work, palliative, and end-of-life care. Notably, Minnesota Oncology is not required to secure prior authorization from Blue Cross for coverage of select services typically associated with high rates of overutilization or cost because they’ve proven that their standards and results are equal to or beyond the health plan standards.  

Blue Cross and Minnesota Oncology plan to issue future updates on the efficacy of the five-year value-based agreement as new data becomes available.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
For nearly 90 years, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (bluecrossmn.com) has supported the health, wellbeing and peace of mind of our members by striving to ensure equitable access to high quality care at an affordable price. Our 2.5 million members can be found in every Minnesota county, all 50 states and on four continents. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

About Minnesota Oncology
Minnesota Oncology is dedicated to providing compassionate care for various types of cancer and blood disorders in 12 convenient Twin Cities metro locations. Minnesota Oncology provides high-quality cancer care in a community setting, allowing patients to stay close to the comfort of home and family. Its mission is to combine the strength of hope with the power of science, one patient at a time.

Minnesota Oncology is a practice in The US Oncology Network (The Network). This collaboration unites the practice with more than 1,200 independent physicians dedicated to delivering value-based, integrated care to patients — close to home. Through The Network, these independent doctors come together to form a community of shared expertise and resources dedicated to advancing local cancer care and to delivering better patient outcomes. The Network is supported by McKesson Corporation, whose coordinated resources and infrastructure allow doctors in The Network to focus on the health of their patients, while McKesson focuses on the health of their practices. Minnesota Oncology also participates in clinical trials through US Oncology Research, which has played a role in more than 90 FDA-approved cancer therapies, approximately one-third of all cancer therapies approved by the FDA to date.
 

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