Can Outcomes Become Income?

By Leonard Zwelling

            I
hope that you received the same gift I did on Friday, May 31. It was a book
edited by Drs. Rodriguez, Walters and Burke entitled “60 Years of Survival
Outcomes at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center”. It is a
disease-by-disease compilation of the data from the MD Anderson Tumor Registry
showing the improvements in outcomes from cancer over the years since the
registry began.

            It
is a really impressive piece of work. First, the very fact that MD Anderson has
60 years worth of clinical outcomes data is in and of itself amazing. Second,
the scope of the diseases treated here is staggering indicating the breadth of
the MD Anderson faculty’s experience and what that can mean for the very next
patient seen. These numbers go into the tens of thousands illustrating the
depth of the Anderson experience. Every therapeutic discipline imaginable is
covered. This book is a data-driven testimony to the greatness of the MD
Anderson clinical and clinical research faculty and the courage of generations
of MD Anderson patients.

            How
can this generate revenue? Can outcomes become income?

            They
can if:

1.     These
data are compared with comparable data from other similar academic and private
cancer care institutions to identify the absolute best practice and focus our
strategy on providing the care of the highest quality while maximizing value.

2.     The
likely result is that we will be the best in many things. We may be equal to
other places in others and there may actually be a way to care for cancer
patients that is superior to ours. Knowing all of this will be valuable for we
must compete on superior quality and that means better outcomes not just better
parking. Doing this with lower expenses is also important to maintain the
margin we use to support our non-clinical missions.

3.     The
results of such a study should be used to formulate our strategic plan for the
clinical enterprise. What should we invest in? What should we bolster? What
technology need we adapt? What therapies need to be administered only at 1515
Holcombe and which could be given in the regional care centers thus adding a
convenience factor for local patients? We may even stop doing some things, but
I doubt it.

            This
book shows what we can do when we decide to mine our own data. It should also
alert us to shortcomings in the data that we need to keep in the front of our
minds as we plan the new EMR.

            I
urge everyone to peruse this book. Heck, read it from cover to cover. Yes, it
is surely history. It may well include patients whose treatments then would not
be the same today. But this compilation sets the standard for what we can do.
It strongly suggests that outcomes can become income. Let’s find out.

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