March 2013 Edition Vol.11, Issue 3

Community Counts: A Discussion With ION Senior Vice President Barry Fortner, PhD, Regarding a New Initiative to Help Community Oncologists

Empowering Community Oncology with Choices that Count: An On-conversation with Barry Fortner, PhD, Senior Vice President of Operations, ION Solutions (continued)

OBR: So that’s an example of an educational tool available now.  Any other tools we should be talking about?

Barry: We have released the first of a series of core slide decks. These decks summarize the literature that can be accessed in multiple forms that a practice or an interested party can download and then use in their own presentation or adapt to their own practice. This broad body of literature I referred to is a significant effort to digest, and Community Counts provides that literature to interested parties in a way that can be used in communication efforts.

OBR: And, the intended communication is physician to other stakeholders, including Capitol Hill and their legislators, correct?

Barry: Community oncologists have to represent themselves.  There’s simply no way around the fact that their relationships with thousands of patients is something that they treasure, but they treasure it quietly.  Community oncologists are going to have to reveal who they are and what they are doing so that payers, the government, employers, even their own communities can recognize and acknowledge what they’re doing.  Ultimately, we need all community-based oncologists to be able to represent themselves in a more vocal and visible manner.

OBR: How else can Community Counts help?

Barry: We have a series of webinars that will be expanded. Some are more aimed at payers, some at employers, or at practices. The Community Counts website has in effect a call to action capability so people are able to come online and send a message to their local representative. We will be releasing a broad range of tools over the coming weeks in which various constituencies are targeted and the nuances of the messages may receive attention.

The four-city tour is not the end of the campaign. The campaign will be an enduring effort as the healthcare debate is not something that will end any time soon. This effort of ours is ION Solutions showing our commitment to the marketplace and to our customers. We believe that this is a national dialogue that will continue for many months if not years, and we want to make sure that community oncologists are properly represented in this ongoing conversation.

OBR: Back to the live meetings, can you give me an example of the faculty at these meetings?

Barry: In Philadelphia, Dr. Jeff Vacirca showed a compelling video where he was telling the story of his community practice and he really made an appeal to his colleagues about appreciating and understanding the value proposition of the community oncology as a profession. He emphasized the call to action in a peer-to-peer manner. There’s an array of folks involved in the presentations, but at the heart of this it really goes back to an awakening amongst community oncologists to have a hand in shaping the future of their profession.

There’s no doubt that we have a special relationship with the 4,500 physicians and 1,600 practices in the ION Solutions network; that’s a majority of the community market. We’ll leverage the intimacy of those relationships, but I think it is important for us to communicate that this is not just about the ION Solutions member practices—this is open to any community practice, and again, it’s for the welfare of the industry. All our events are open events and are attended by practices regardless of their affiliation.

OBR: That is important to communicate. I like the fact that you’re trying to make this kind of turnkey for practices to use your resources to go directly to their legislators, employers in the region, or to their regional payers.

Barry: We do have partners that are interested in supporting these efforts, and the entire industry is able to help in certain ways. Ultimately, the profession needs to represent itself in terms of large-scale communications and mass media efforts. We are very thankful that the industry is showing support and coming to the aid of community oncology.

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