Why Preventive Oncology is Good for Patients and Profit

Dec 20, 2022

This year marks “one of the worst financial years on record for hospitals,” according to Kaufman Hall. It’s not just that operating margins are down 31% compared to 2019 — labor shortages and critically high levels of burnout mean staffing resources are also maxed out.  

In this environment, the usual hospital revenue generation strategies won’t get off the ground. Going into 2023, hospital leaders will need to find ways to drive greater incremental revenue with the resources they already have.  

That’s why preventive oncology should be on the top of every health system’s priority list. Preventive cancer care is largely untapped as a source of revenue within many health systems. CancerIQ data shows 2 in 5 patients who undergo comprehensive cancer risk assessment and genetic testing require a change in medical management. That means health systems were missing a significant portion of their patient population who would benefit from billable clinical services, like colonoscopies, breast MRIs and prophylactic surgeries. It also means preventive cancer care can drive incremental revenue.  

Importantly, this shift leads to earlier stage cancer diagnoses, which improve health outcomes, build patient loyalty and support long-term growth.  

"All these tools for prevention and early detection — genetics, imaging, biopsies, limited surgical interventions — help us better serve patients, help reduce overall costs to health plans by detecting cancer earlier and changing the medical management of these patients,” said Cory Ferrier, Vice President, Adventist Health.

Here’s how to get started with preventive oncology at your health system:

Identify high-risk patients sooner. If risk assessment and genetic counseling is only available after cancer diagnosis, your health system is missing opportunities for prevention. To identify as many high-risk patients as possible, these preventive services must be available more broadly, in clinical settings like primary care, women’s health and gastroenterology. 

Conduct comprehensive cancer risk assessment. With the right tools in place, health systems can equip clinicians to assess the full spectrum of cancer risk, including genetic, lifestyle and adherence-based factors, within their current workflows. This helps build greater capacity into genetic counseling and testing programs. 

Define preventive care pathways. Lastly, service lines can build actionable care pathways and referral frameworks that engage, educate and navigate patients through the next steps of their personalized plans, helping reduce leakage and improve revenue capture. 

Taken together, these three simple changes can produce a measurable payoff: Health systems that expand access to risk assessment and genetic testing generate approximately $1.6 million in downstream revenue for every 10,000 patients assessed. 

To learn more about how to jumpstart service line growth in today’s economy, be the first to check out our new, free eBook: “Preventive Oncology: An Untapped Revenue Source for Today’s Health Systems.”

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Topics: High-Risk Patients| Health Systems| Cancer Centers