The cost of cancer care and the quality of patient services has always been a top priority in health care. However, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Innovation Center has been working to strengthen both elements of care. CMS, through its Oncology Care Model (OCM) division, works with cancer care providers to develop payment strategies and performance categories in treatment plans for patients with cancer.

Rather than a fee-for-services model, the OCM focuses on treating patients individually, offering the care plans and treatment protocols that work best for them. Providers are paid according to quality metrics, along with services provided, to encapsulate a quality-based model for financially payment. Since July 2016, the OCM has been piloting in more than 190 institutions, changing practice and collecting data to better understand how quality-based payments work in oncology.

After the OCM’s initial stages, CMS sought outside review of the program to provide a baseline report. The goal of study, according to researchers was to, “Examine the impact of the OCM model on outcomes such as episode utilization and expenditures. This report examines characteristics of participating practices and their matched comparators prior to implementation of the model, and describes cancer care before any changes induced by OCM. This report lays the foundation for evaluation results that will be presented in subsequent reports.”

As the OCM continues in practices across the country, future reports will be able to mark the impacts of practice change and grow within the program. Through extended research, patient satisfaction and achievable survival rates will be ranked, and new methods to understand quality and costs will be better understood. These longitudinal studies require data analysis and take time to implement into practice.