AC conducted the following email interview with both the President and CEO of Michigan Society of Hematology and Oncology. AC: How and when was MSHO founded? How many members does your organization have today?MSHO
: The Michigan Society of Hematology and Oncology (MSHO) was formed in 1985 in response to unfavorable changes in Medicare reimbursement and consistent coverage issues with Michigan's private payers that jeopardized the specialists' ability to deliver quality care. Twenty seven years later, the need to advocate for the advancement of cancer treatment as a recognized, credible, unified, local "Voice of Oncology" remains.
In 1989, MSHO became involved in the first state legislation mandating oncology drug coverage, expanding the law to include off-label indications. This landmark legislation led to the development of an Off-Label Oncology Panel review process that is still viable and emulated throughout the country. The Society's influence was expanded when MSHO was invited to Washington, DC to speak on Michigan's law as Congress formulated the 1994 Medicare Coverage Act.
Throughout its history, MSHO has paid careful attention to membership recruitment and retention. Policy makers and regulators have given the Society access because they understand that we represent 90% of the state's cancer specialists. As of today, the MSHO includes 347 physicians from private practice, community hospitals, and academic medical center settings. Sixty one oncology fellows training in Michigan’s seven fellowship programs receive the benefits of MSHO membership at no cost. Our organization provides educational, reimbursement, legislative advocacy, and networking services to physician members, as well as, their Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants, oncology nurses, practice managers, and billing staff members. Surveying and targeting the unique, local needs of our practices and clinics and employing a variety of communication vehicles, keeps the Society relevant and valuable to its members.AC: What have been some of the latest accomplishments of MSHO?MSHO
: MSHO has launched an initiative to prepare young physicians training in Michigan’s seven fellowship programs for their job search. We are working to keep as many of these bright young doctors in our state as possible by connecting them with practices and clinics seeking additional specialists.
With the help of an ASCO State Affiliate Grant, MSHO has developed a website resource to help clinicians help their patients adhere to their oral therapy regimen. Clinical information, financial support, available patient education tools and professional education resources are organized in a consistent, centralized format. This grant also supported a nurse program to create awareness of safety concerns for patients who received an oral regimen.
At the request of our members, we developed a Billing and Compliance workshop for those involved in clinical trials based on actual protocol templates.
The MSHO Board of Directors continues to implement and advance the key elements of our 2010 Strategic Plan including establishing a legislative watchdog system, being recognized as the go-to source for information on hematology oncology exemplary care, addressing the professional growth of our young physicians, and insuring financial sustainability of the Society.AC: What are some of the top priorities for MSHO in the upcoming year?MSHO
: MSHO is reevaluating and expanding its membership services to be relevant to those now practicing in a hospital-owned care setting. We continue to monitor the effect of health care reform both on a national and local payer level. We are adapting some of our educational programming to take advantage of the available technology. AC: What is MSHO planning in the upcoming year for advocacy efforts?MSHO
: MSHO is strengthening its Legislative Committee with the assistance of our newly contracted Government Affairs Consultant. Our focus will primarily be on state issues where our members may have the most impact and access.
We will continue to work with the coalition dedicated to passage of oral parity legislation in Michigan. We will participate in the rejuvenation of the Michigan Cancer Caucus.
We will continue to recruit expert testimony for hearings, issue white papers and solicit grass-roots action on legislation that could impact hematology and oncology care. AC
: What are the current challenges facing Michigan oncologists? How have the Society’s efforts benefited oncologists with those challenges?
: Michigan oncologists face the same challenges as their colleagues throughout the country. Payment reform, adjusting to new care delivery models, meeting reporting demands for a number of quality initiatives, staying up-to-date with clinical advances, implementation of electronic health systems, workforce shortages, succession planning, etc. The Michigan economy has resulted in many more Medicaid patients needing care.
Over 1,600 registrants took advantage of MSHO’s 26 educational programs offered last year. The Society offers continuing medical education courses, nursing continuing education programs, reimbursement and billing workshops, and business of oncology seminars. Timely oncology-specific information is available on our website, included in our twice monthly reimbursement e-bulletins, quarterly newsletters, and electronic member alerts. Over 200 administrators and reimbursement specialists in both private practice and hospital clinic settings are registered on our Listserv.
Our Society is represented on the Medicare Carrier Advisory Committee, Michigan Cancer Consortium, Michigan State Medical Society House of Delegates, Southeastern Michigan Partners Against Cancer, Community Oncology Alliance’s Cancer
Administrators’ Network, and ASCO’s State Affiliate Council. These connections are vital in keeping our members abreast of issues, threats, and initiatives while identifying MSHO as the authority in the delivery of quality oncology care. MSHO has a full complement of reimbursement consultation, education, and communication services to help practices and clinics stay viable. AC: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about your organization?MSHO
: MSHO has thrived because of strong physician leadership, significant member engagement, and the commitment to our mission of promoting exemplary care for patients with cancer and blood disorders through advocacy, education, and support for research. MSHO has built a respected organization over its many years of operation. We are willing to share our successes and lessons learned with Societies that are just getting started or looking to rejuvenate their organizations. The rewards of networking with your colleagues for the advancement of cancer care is well worth the time and effort required to be involved in your State Society.AC: Where should readers go for more information about MSHO?MSHO
Mohammed Ogaily, MD
Mary Kay Makarewicz
3630 Rockingham Road
Royal Oak, MI 48072