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Cancer. 1998 May 15;82(10 Suppl):2026-34.

Collaborative approaches to purchasing and managing oncology services for a prepaid population.

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Harvard University Health Services, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA.



Change created by managed care plans is producing tensions among oncology care providers, health plans, patients, and employers. Managed care plans, which now are dominant, are engendering concern among some patients and providers because those plans limit provider choice and reimbursement, as well as inject themselves in clinical decision-making. Collaborative approaches to purchasing and managing oncology service for a prepaid population should help reduce these tensions.


This article provides a case history of how Harvard University Health Services, a managed care delivery and insurance program serving the university collaborates with contracted oncology providers. The described approach defines mutually beneficial payment and shared responsibility for care in the context of patient centered values. As a part of this collaborative effort, liberal experimental treatment coverage is offered.


Patient care is improved because the flow of clinical information among caregivers is improved. When communication is more open, nurse case managers who work for the managed care plan also can arrange for covered services in a more expeditious manner.


Collaboration among health plans, oncologists, and other health care providers to provide patients with high quality, cost-effective care on a fully informed basis is challenging, but not impossible. The key is to define common ground and commitment to the needs of patients among health plans and providers.

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