'Beyond the four walls': How comprehensive cancer care supports improved patient outcomes

Most Americans have been touched by cancer, whether through personal experience or through a family member or loved one. Last year, 1.9 million Americans were diagnosed with cancer. As the population ages, experts believe this number will grow.

The good news: The cancer treatment landscape is constantly evolving. Care models are changing and advanced therapies like oncolytics, biosimilars, oral pharmaceuticals and radiation treatments such as proton therapy offer promising alternatives.

To learn more about proactive approaches to improving the patient journey, Becker's Healthcare recently spoke with Dan Austin, Vice President of GPO (group purchasing organization) and Oncology Strategy at McKesson. He discussed McKesson's commitment in the cancer ecosystem.

Cancer treatment that goes beyond distribution

McKesson is well-known for its expertise in healthcare distribution. The company's entry into the cancer and oncology space started in this area, with acquisitions of other distributors. But this was just the beginning.

Unlike other service providers, McKesson has the operational resources needed to help providers treat cancer patients in many different settings. McKesson can satisfy a provider's needs related to pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, laboratory, radiation, patient exams and even surgery settings.

"This dramatically reduces the amount of time that staff members need to hunt down products related to patient care," Mr. Austin said. "We understand the pressures of running an oncology office and have developed a comprehensive set of resources for customers." 

McKesson also recognizes that oncology treatment extends beyond the four walls of the hospital or doctor's office; it's crucial to look at the whole patient journey and follow cancer patients through recovery. "We help people recover at home, so they can go through the treatment process and get back on their feet faster," Mr. Austin said.

Partnerships and collaboration mean better patient outcomes

McKesson recently announced a joint venture with the Nashville, Tenn.-based Sarah Cannon Research Institute, which will enable the company to expand pharmaceutical and drug trial options for cancer patients. Mr. Austin emphasized the significance of the partnership, given the institute's reputation in the oncology space and how, together, they will help more clinics get new therapies to market faster.

For McKesson, the war on cancer is personal

Despite its status as a Fortune 8 company, McKesson recognizes that cancer is a very personal journey and the organization is committed to helping patients in every way.

Mr. Austin reflected on an incident last year, when the child of a McKesson employee was going through an oncology procedure at the University of Minnesota and required a specific device for the procedure. McKesson called the manufacturer, explained the situation and obtained a small number of devices so the child's physician could carry out the procedure. "Even though this is a small example of helping a patient, it's differences like that in the company's personal mission that we are trying to achieve," Mr. Austin said.

In addition, McKesson recently offered cancer screenings to all employees in Richmond, Va., based on a new multi-cancer early detection test, Galleri®. This test identifies markers for cancer, which enables earlier detection for disease and sooner treatment, if needed. More than 150 employees participated in the screenings and several are now receiving treatment earlier than they would have otherwise.


When it comes to fighting cancer, McKesson focuses on the entire patient journey and addresses what providers need operationally in order to offer the best care. "Our goal is to increase survival rates and make the patient experience easier," Mr. Austin said. "Ultimately, we want our customers to generate better outcomes and to become a destination for individuals seeking cancer treatment."

To learn more about McKesson's commitment to cancer care and treatment centers, visit the oncology services website.

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