Insights: Cancer care in Florida
Breakthroughs, trends and players in the medical field of oncology
Last year, more than 16,700 Floridians were diagnosed with prostate cancer. At Cleveland Clinic Florida, prostate gland removal is performed in the hospital's new, state-of-the-art operating room, which combines magnified video projection with a 3-D robotic surgical system. The operating room is the first of its kind in Florida and the second in the nation.
Florida Blue, the state's largest insurer, is experimenting with new cancer-oriented accountable care organizations, launching one last May in conjunction with Baptist Health South Florida and Advanced Medical Specialties. This year, the insurer is teaming up with Moffitt Cancer Center to create an accountable care organization for cancer patients in the Tampa Bay area.
The collaborations aim to improve care while cutting costs by shifting to a "value-based" reimbursement structure. Rather than billing in the typical fee-for-service manner, doctors and hospitals earn financial incentives for providing good quality care while keeping costs down.
Since taking the reins as director of the University of Miami's Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center one year ago, Dr. Stephen Nimer has recruited 11 faculty members, formed committees to assess everything from patient experience to the hospital's portfolio of clinical trials, and worked to expand or develop a number of services at Sylvester, including programs for breast, lung and prostate cancers and hematological malignancies.
Behind those moves is Nimer's goal of getting Sylvester designated as a National Center Institute facility -- and the substantial funding that comes with the designation. Currently, Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa is the only NCI-designated facility in the state.
"We want to have many more outstanding programs than is required to apply for the NCI designation," says Nimer, a leukemia and stem cell transplant researcher and physician lured from Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York.
"My goal down here is to build the clinical programs and to help build the research programs and bring in new faculty who will leverage the expertise we have on both the science and the clinical side so we meet all the criteria for NCI designation."
Sylvester Cancer Center, which is 40 years old this year, once had NCI designation, but lost it in 1996 after it was unable to keep up its various programs. Today, Sylvester is the only academic cancer center in south Florida and serves between 6 million and 7 million people.
Nimer says the benefits of regaining NCI's stamp of approval include an influx in research dollars and patient access to clinical trials available only at NCI-designated cancer centers. The elite distinction would also help Sylvester recruit more top-tier cancer physicians and researchers.