National expert tells Pittsburgh providers to expect a cost crisis in cancer care
Employers and health care providers must overhaul how they prevent and fight cancer to head off an expensive crisis in treating the disease, a top national health adviser said Friday.
“The trick here is not simply to cut costs. It's cutting costs intelligently — reducing costs without impairing quality,” said Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg, president of the Institute of Medicine, speaking to a private Downtown gathering hosted by insurer Highmark Inc.
The price for treating all cancer cases in the United States could climb 39 percent this decade, a staggering trend that could burden patients, families and the medical system unless health leaders rethink their practices, Fineberg said.
A fast-growing elderly population, more costly treatments and a shrunken oncology workforce could exacerbate the cancer problem, according to analysts at the institute. Part of the United States National Academies in Washington, the nonprofit group warned in September that the incidence of cancer could jump 45 percent to 2.3 million new diagnoses annually by 2030.
Several challenges could emerge within that boom, the institute wrote in a report. Too few qualified workers might be available to care for patients, whose increasingly complex treatment decisions are often not based on the best information available, analysts found.
Meanwhile, Fineberg said a quarter of cancer patients surveyed believed clinicians did not share relevant details with others involved in their care. He argued the medical system and employers can do more to prevent the disease, saying the country lags other developed nations in investing in prevention.
Highmark CEO Dr. William Winkenwerder built on Fineberg's visit to ask other local employers to help prevent cancer, including through employee wellness programs. The company's Allegheny Health Network is using findings by the national group as “essentially our playbook” at its own Cancer Institute, said institute Chairman Dr. David Parda.
“The patient has all the answers. We just need to listen better,” Parda said.
Fineberg was the keynote speaker as the CEO Roundtable on Cancer, a national executive group, honored Highmark with Gold Standard accreditation. The award recognizes Highmark for encouraging its employees to reduce their cancer risk.
UPMC shares the worries the Institute of Medicine aired, said Dr. Peter Ellis, a deputy director at UPMC CancerCenter.
He said UPMC developed multimillion-dollar methods to identify the most cost-effective therapies to treat cancer and other ailments.
“There are some costs we can't avoid because there are genuine improvements,” Ellis said, calling that “the price of success.”
Adam Smeltz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5676 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins score 1st win in San Jose in 18 years
- Pirates showing interest in starting pitcher Masterson
- Despite cross-check, Pens’ Crosby expects contact in front of net
- Stylish, inexpensive dress takes television newsrooms by storm
- Web-savvy terrorists have success luring U.S. recruits with social media
- Boras: Alvarez’s power is too valuable for Pirates to let him leave
- Yough girls working to improve after winless campaign last season
- Pitt’s surge goes for naught as No. 11 Purdue prevails at Pete
- Penguins notebook: Warsofsky gets shot to play on blueline
- Steelers notebook: Opportunity awaits Boykin
- Pittsburgh attorney cites Pa. AG’s suspension in dismissal attempt