Research

2017 survey results: The top cancer program threats and opportunities

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Across the summer of 2017, we partnered with the Association of Community Cancer Centers to survey cancer providers across the country. We learned about programs' top priorities, challenges, and opportunities for growth.

Over 290 respondents from 209 organizations participated in the survey, and non-teaching community hospitals comprised slightly over half of the respondents, while 21% were teaching hospitals and 16% were academic medical centers. The remaining respondents were independent practices, freestanding centers, and PPS-exempt cancer hospitals.

You can download the full data report and read our key takeaways below.

Download the Survey Results



Cost of treatment is the biggest threat to cancer program growth

When asked to identify the top three threats to future cancer program growth, 68% of respondents selected cost of drugs and/or new treatment modalities—clearly the number one threat. In comparison, only 47% selected the next ranked threat, physician alignment around services and program goals.

Other top threats include changes in health care coverage, cuts to fee-for-service reimbursement, and shifting reimbursement towards value-based care.

Which of the following are the biggest threats to future cancer program growth at your organization?
Percentage of respondents that ranked threat in top five, 2017
n=234

biggest threats to cancer program growth

Competition increasing for majority of respondents

For the question above, marketplace competition was ranked sixth out of twelve response choices. Despite only 35% of respondents including it as a top-three threat to their growth, the majority of programs indicated that competition has increased in their market across the past two years.

Over the 24 months, how has the level of competition in your market changed?
Percentage of respondents, 2017
n=235

cancer program market competition

Clinical standardization and drugs are seen as biggest opportunities to save costs

When asked to select the top three opportunities to save costs, respondents overwhelmingly pointed to clinical standardization and drugs. These two options far outranked all other options—less than 30% of respondents selected the next-ranked options of supplies, capital expenses, and non-clinical staff.

To realize these two top opportunities, nearly 30% of respondents said they are planning to adopt clinical pathways for medical oncology, either vendor sponsored or homegrown, in the next two years.

Which of the following are your cancer program's biggest opportunities for cost savings?
Percentage of respondents who ranked opportunity in top three, 2017
n=222

cancer program cost savings opportunities

Programs believe sub-specialists most likely to drive financial gains

To understand how cancer programs rank the profitability of different services, we asked respondents to select the three investment they believed would yield a positive return. Nearly 60% of respondents included increasing the number of sub-specialists, such as gynecologic oncologists and breast surgeons, in their response. In contrast, only 34% included increasing the number of general oncology physicians, indicating how much potential cancer programs see in physician specialization.

The second-highest ranked investment was marketing, reflecting the trend of cancer patients acting more like consumers and deciding where to receive their care. Next, nearly 36% of respondents ranked specialty pharmacy in their top three. In contrast, only 14% of respondents believe retail pharmacy will yield a return for their program.

Which of the following investments do you believe are most likely to yield a return for your cancer program?
Percentage of respondents who ranked investment in top three, 2017
n=221

cancer program investments

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