Bending the cost curve: a unique collaboration between radiation oncologists and blue cross blue shield of massachusetts to optimize the use of advanced technology.

Journal of oncology practice / American Society of Clinical Oncology

PubMedID: 25232190

Steingisser L, Acker B, Berman S, Brenner MJ, Bornstein BA, Busse P, FitzGerald TJ, Jacobson JO, Jekowsky E, Kachnic LA, Mamon H, McKee A, Shulman LN, Stevenson MA, Wazer D, Fallon JA. Bending the cost curve: a unique collaboration between radiation oncologists and blue cross blue shield of massachusetts to optimize the use of advanced technology. J Oncol Pract. 2014;10(5):e321-7.
PURPOSE
Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) limits the dose of radiation to critical normal tissue structures and can be applied to the management of most cancers treated with radiation therapy. Because of increased treatment planning time and quality assurance, IMRT is costly. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA) and the Massachusetts Radiation Oncology Physicians Advisory Council (PAC) developed a strategy to develop standards for the appropriate use of IMRT.

METHODS
Normal tissue volume guidelines were established in multiple oncology disease areas and body site regions. Guidelines were activated in September 2011, and the use of IMRT per case was tracked quarterly by BCBSMA staff.

RESULTS
During the first year of activation of the volume-based guidelines, use of IMRT decreased by 17% in Massachusetts, in contrast to a 20% increase during the previous year.

CONCLUSIONS
The normal tissue-based guidelines have decreased the use of IMRT in Massachusetts; increased the use of 3D treatment; continued communication between treating radiation oncologists and an insurance organization responsible for cost and quality in medicine; increased cost savings; enabled an efficient appeal process; and provided optimal, cost-effective patient care. This may prove to be an effective model for other disciplines and other developing and maturing radiation technologies.