Q&A with Todd Sachs, MD, FACS, AccessHope Chief Medical Officer
What trends in oncology do you see taking off in 2024? Why?
Precision medicine in oncology will continue to expand, and it should because it’s refining how we can best treat someone’s cancer, which is different from anyone else’s cancer. Precision medicine provides an incredible opportunity to recognize the unique characteristics of each patient’s cancer and tailor therapeutic approaches for optimal outcomes. We also will hear and learn more about MCD (Multi-Cancer Detection) assays or tests. Blood tests that help with cancer screening, unlike the current screening tests, which use X-ray or imaging techniques or more invasive methods.
Do you predict any major changes to access to genomic testing in 2024?
In 2024, I look forward to witnessing better collaboration between organizations to help more people obtain genomic testing. One in eight people that have cancer have inherited genetic mutations, yet less than 30% of patients receive genetic testing. We need to collectively do better and increase access. However, we must also remember that it's not just about getting the test done, but also having clinical support to understand and interpret the results, ensuring that everyone can benefit from this valuable information for their health.
Do you predict any major changes to how patients access clinical trials in 2024?
Organizations like AccessHope and others continue to assist more people in access to clinical trials, alleviating the burden to navigate this process alone. Beyond identifying relevant clinical trials, the goal should be to actively connect people with these clinical trials that can potentially improve their health outcomes.
What trends in employee benefits do you see taking off in 2024? Why?
In 2024, employee benefit trends continue to prioritize cancer treatment and care for the workforce, with it often ranking as the top or one of the top three health care expenditures for employers. However, the challenge lies in ensuring employees are receiving optimal care while the cost of cancer continues to increase.
Organizations like AccessHope can play a pivotal role in helping employers reduce avoidable and wasteful expenses from unnecessary tests or treatment, but also improve access to leading expertise on the latest innovations and clinical breakthroughs in cancer care to optimize outcomes. in addressing the rising costs of cancer care. The concern lies in the potential impact on individuals if proactive measures aren’t taken to manage these costs. Individuals may be forced to make suboptimal healthcare decisions, impacting their health, quality of life, and overall life expectancy due to the financial strain associated with a cancer diagnosis.
Is there any legislation that you’re keeping your eye on with regards to coverage for oncology benefits?
I am interested to see how legislation unfolds concerning oncology benefits coverage, particularly in addressing the rising costs of cancer care. The concern lies in the potential impact on individuals if proactive measures aren’t taken to manage these costs. Individuals may be forced to make suboptimal healthcare decisions, impacting their health, quality of life, and overall life expectancy due to the financial strain associated with a cancer diagnosis.
Do you predict any major advancements or changes that will improve clinician burnout in the years ahead?
Unfortunately burn out in healthcare is increasing with nearly 50% of health care workers reporting they are feeling burned out. Before organizations can address clinician burnout, we must recognize its multifaceted nature because it stems from different causes, including emotional, physical, gender, workload, and safety-related factors, to name a few. This emphasizes the reality that there's no universal solution and calls for tailored solutions, yet working in a supportive work environment is a key first step to addressing burn out.
Organizations should conduct comprehensive assessments to identify individual sources of burnout and collaboratively work towards tailored solutions, acknowledging that no institution is immune to this issue. Failing to address these concerns could lead to more clinicians leaving the field, escalating problems from access to services to the overall quality of healthcare provided.
How does AccessHope bridge expertise for better outcomes?
By connecting individuals and their treating oncologists with expertise from NCI-CCC centers, AccessHope can help ensure the member is on the optimal treatment path through expert reviews. In more than 90% of cases, AccessHope offers evidence-based recommendations to improve cancer management.1 Additionally, our experts identify relevant clinical trials in 43% of cases reviewed.
1 AccessHope. Peer-reviewed study validates AccessHope’s remote model of providing expert case reviews in lung cancer. https://www.myaccesshope.org/blog/peer-reviewed-study-validates-accesshopes-remote-model-of-providing-expert-case-reviews-in-lung-cancer. Published December 6, 2021. Accessed August 18, 2023.