Value-Based Care Must Be Linked to Improved Clinical Outcomes James T. Kenney, RPh, MBA Manager, Specialty and Pharmacy Contracts, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care


ociety meetings, such as the re­ cent American Society of Hema­ tology (ASH) annual meeting, generate a lot of clinical-related excite­ ment regarding new treatment options, protocols, and pathways for hematolog­ ic cancers. Health plans rely on specialists and presentations from professional meet­ ings to navigate the copious amounts of data being presented over a relatively short period of time. There is also a strong need to balance the clinical ad­ vances made with new therapies and the appropriate providers and patients who will have access to them. The financial concerns of new treat­ ment options are processed in parallel with the clinical review and with the hope for a balance of all things clinical and the limited resources available to pay for these advances in medicine.

Robust Hematologic Drug Pipeline

The hematologic cancer drug pipe­ line is robust, and many studies pre­ sented at the meeting have demon­ strated the value of the new treatment options (see article on page 1). Fur­ thermore, many new drugs approved in 2015 have significantly advanced the treatment of select hematologic malignancies.

Multiple Myeloma

Patients with multiple myeloma con­ tinue to receive the benefit of scientific advances, with new molecules and cre­ ative ways to combine them with exist­ ing molecules to achieve improvements in overall survival. The gold standard, bortezomib (Velcade) continues to offer strong clinical value. As discussed by Durie and colleagues at the 2015 ASH meet­ ing, bortezomib is a part of a new standard of care for the treatment of patients with newly diagnosed multi­ ple myeloma. The triplet regimen of bortezomib, lenalidomide (Revlimid), and dexamethasone (Decadron), fol­ lowed by maintenance therapy with lenalidomide and dexamethasone, achieved 11 months of additional over­ all survival compared with previous treatment options.

Utilization Management Tools

Furthermore, the approval of 4 new agents for multiple myeloma over the past year, including the 3 drugs that



received approval at the end of 2015, presents challenges for health plan formulary committees to evaluate, as­ sess, differentiate, and select the appro­ priate drugs for formulary coverage. The treatment approaches in the mar­

The discussion of process improvements, decreasing variability, data collection, and value create the setting to achieve improved outcomes at a reasonable cost. ket by clinical hematologists are var­ ied, and they do not always follow a particular pathway or a standard meth­ odology. The opportunity for the de­ velopment of an approved pathway in multiple myeloma is not clear, because many physicians choose different drug combinations to achieve positive clin­ ical results. As S. Vincent Rajkumar, MD, point­ ed out at the meeting, the temptation to use some of the newer agents off-­ label or earlier in the treatment regi­ mens is real (see article on page 12). This type of concern prompts health plans to create utilization manage­ ment tools regarding newer agents to limit access to the labeled indications before any expansions in the labels over time. The potential for an all-oral regimen in multiple myeloma as reviewed by Philippe Moreau, MD, including the first oral proteasome inhibitor ixazo­ mib (Ninlaro; see article on page 13), shifts the cost burden from the medical benefit to the pharmacy benefit, and enhances the ability to apply utiliza­

tion management controls to the med­ ications for health plan pharmacy management. Improving Outcomes at Reasonable Cost

Michael Kolodziej, MD, identifies a number of key areas of opportunity for health plans to achieve treatment suc­ cess while balancing the cost of care (see article on page 1). Quality man­ agement principles were introduced to managed care based on the teach­ ings of Edward Deming in the early 1980s, and were incorporated into clinical practice at Harvard Commu­ nity Health Plan by Don Berwick, MD, as part of a broad attempt to improve the quality of care in a staff model health plan. In my experience at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, we were able to achieve significant improvements in quality de­ spite the limited data capabilities. The discussion of process improve­ ments, decreasing variability, data col­ lection, and value create the setting to achieve improved outcomes at a rea­ sonable cost. The use of the pa­ tient-centered medical home model focuses on the importance of care coor­ dination to achieve positive clinical outcomes.

Health plans must evaluate all aspects of each drug to select the ones with the best balance of efficacy, safety, tolerability, and cost. The expansion of specialized care in the medical community shifted the focus away from primary care physicians and toward the use of specialists to treat patients who could not be managed by primary care physicians. Episode-of-Care Payment System

Joseph Alvarnas, MD, discusses the potential for an episode-of-care pay­ ment system that, when coupled with effective care coordination, may lead to improved outcomes and reductions in duplicate services, improvements in efficiency, reduced waste, and, ulti­

mately, lower costs (see article on page 10). This process will support the improved management of patients with hematologic cancers and the need to identify, track, and manage the adverse events, drug interactions, and complications of various treat­ ment options. The patient can get lost in the system because of multiple healthcare provid­ ers, service locations, comorbidities, and a lack of strong care coordination. This topic was discussed by Nicola Wal­ lis, MRCPath, FFPM, at ASH 2015; she presented data on chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) in relation to adverse events and treatment costs associated with them. The remarkable efficacy of tyrosine kinase inhibitors and their ability to effectively cure patients with CML may have masked concerns regarding adverse events associated with these treatments. Financial Toxicity

Health plans must evaluate all as­ pects of each drug to select the ones with the best balance of efficacy, safe­ ty, tolerability, and cost. In addition, health plans and providers need to be cognizant of the financial burden that may be placed on patients with cancer. At ASH 2015, Joanne S. Buzaglo, PhD, discussed financial toxicity, not­ ing it can lead to depression or other poor health outcomes, as well as to poor medication adherence.

The Future of Cancer Care

The future is filled with the promise of new drug approvals, the increased development of targeted therapies, companion diagnostics to match pa­ tients to a particular drug, and the po­ tential launches of generic drugs or bio­ similars for patients with hematologic cancers. Health plans must work to balance the current best-in-class treatments with potential generic or biosimilar options that will offer predictable effi­ cacy at a lower out-of-pocket cost for patients. If we can improve survival, reduce hospital admission rates, and promote cost-effective pathways, we will then achieve improved clinical outcomes while providing significant value to the healthcare system. s

Value-Based Care Must Be Linked to Improved Clinical Outcomes.

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