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How Partnerships Can Bring Community Care to the Next Level

Analysis  |  By Debra Shute  
   January 12, 2017

Summit Medical Group and the MD Anderson Cancer Center collaboration will provide NJ patients with ambulatory cancer care close to home at a lower cost than most local hospitals, says CEO.

Summit Medical Group, the largest privately held multispecialty medical practice in New Jersey, last spring partnered with University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center to deliver comprehensive multidisciplinary, ambulatory cancer care at a lower patient cost.

Jeffrey Le Benger, MD, CEO of the new Summit Medical Group MD Anderson Cancer Center, discussed his experience with the new model and how it might apply to similar organizations.

HealthLeaders Media: How and when did your partnership with MD Anderson Cancer Center come about?

Jeffrey Le Benger, MD: Previously, we had good cancer care at [Summit Medical Group], but we didn't have the full spectrum of care. We did some clinical trials, but care was fractured for the community.

So about three years ago, we decided to look for a partner in cancer care that would give us the attributes we were looking for—especially the ability to provide seamless care for patients—and decided to partner with MD Anderson because they were very inclusive.

It's the Caring

HLM: Without naming the institutions you didn't pick, what were the qualities you wanted to go after or avoid?

Le Benger: In discussions with other practices in the New York City area, it seemed almost as if they looked at us as a resource for them to get cancer patients to move into the mothership in NYC and then send them back to us for post-care of cancer.

MD Anderson, on the other hand, would expose us to all of its clinical history and expertise in taking care of cancer patients by credentialing our physicians to treat patients at our site. Now we not only have all of the clinical pathways that MD Anderson has, but we also have access to their research, clinical trials, and tumor boards.

And because we're an ambulatory setting, the infusion therapy and radiation oncology we provide is cheaper than the same services provided in a hospital setting. We're very cognizant of patients needing to be able to afford their treatment.

HLM: How does the partnership benefit MD Anderson?

Le Benger: MD Anderson's mission is to eliminate cancer. So they need exposure to as many new cases as they can to get into their clinical trials to figure out what is right in the world of genomics, amino therapy treatments, and other promising ideas that aren't yet where they need to be.

To do so, they want to affiliate and partner with as many good practitioners as they can on the outside to bring cancer therapy to the next level.

HLM: What have been some of your challenges or lessons learned thus far?

Le Benger: Do your due diligence in picking the right partner, and be careful with your local and state regulations. When you start to develop a 130,000-square-foot site, as we have, you have to really watch your cost structure as you're developing it because it's going to be a huge capital outlay.

HLM: How have Summit physicians responded to the partnership?

Le Benger: The surgeons and people at the cancer center are ecstatic. The primary care physicians and others who wrap around this partnership now feel comfortable knowing that we are affiliated with the number one cancer institute in the world.

Learn Texas Health Resources' top tips for physician recruitment and engagement on this webcast: Key Physician Recruitment Strategies from Texas Health Resources.

Debra Shute is the Senior Physicians Editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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