There’s a rapidly growing company in Hillsboro, OR, that’s been around for 23 years and is currently on the brink of changing the world.
Well, the world of cancer care management—which could prove to be monumental for all of us in the healthcare insurance industry.
For over 23 years, INTERLINK COE Networks & Programs has provided transplant network services for reinsurance carriers, insurance companies, self-funded employers, and other managed care clients in the United States.
INTERLINK is an established Center of Excellence-based company that recognizes the value of ensuring geographic coverage of evidence-based care protocols for plans across the nation. Its Centers of Excellence network provides access to high-cost, low-frequency medical procedures used by health plans of a range of sizes.
The company was founded by John Van Dyke, a former PPO negotiator, in 1995. In 2010, INTERLINK saw an opportunity to work with reinsurers to develop targeted cancer care management programs into the Centers of Excellence model.
INTERLINK’s CancerCARE program extends the firm’s Center of Excellence networks with specialized cancer case management nurses who provide consultative support for members looking to choose providers and seek treatments. Targeted cancer benefit language for employer plans is also included at no cost.
“Cancer is the number one employer-paid stop-loss deductible; number one reinsurer reimbursed claim at all levels; and also the number one cause of bankruptcy for members who are covered,” notes Van Dyke.
During a time when health plan premiums have increased 7% to 9% per year, the cost of cancer treatment has jumped an average of 20%. Van Dyke adds that health plans have no control over the frequency of cancer diagnoses, but can influence care quality with benefit incentives and definitions when inserted in the plan document.
However, he believes, there is an opportunity to control costs and increase optimal member outcomes, simply through improved quality of treatment. Better treatment translates into minimized complications and risk of reoccurrence—and ultimately, lower plan costs.
“Our CancerCARE program, from a plan level in managing cancer, is the number one investment that a plan could make to manage their members’ cancer care,” he says.
In 2018, the company CEO estimates the expected frequency of transplants will be 14.66 per 100,000 insured members; and of those 14.6 forecasted transplants, nearly half (6.0 of 14.66) will be for a cancer-related diagnoses.
“With benefit caps removed, a single poor outcome transplant can now cost the plan many millions,” says Van Dyke, “but if you put the CancerCARE benefit language in your plan, you could identify 41% of your transplant cases proactively. With this early notice, you can better manage your expenses within the plan."
Taking Risk Management to the Next Level
“Once you put CancerCARE in your plan, you’re already managing your transplant risk.”
–John Van Dyke, CEO
INTERLINK’s TransplantCARE and CancerCARE programs are based on performance narrowed concepts through networks that are built on “value-driven principles, the best providers, and timing for the best cost,” says Van Dyke. “When you performance narrow with INTERLINK, and outcome improving your very low-frequency, high-cost medical procedures, we’re not disrupting care, but improving member decision quality.”
The Data Tell the Story
The INTERLINK performance model addresses all solid organ transplant programs. The data-accepting capabilities of the model was extended in 2017 to accept transplant outcome data for all transplant teams throughout the U.S.
“We’re looking at 25 of the most telling outcomes for all transplant teams,” explains Van Dyke. "Which identifies for us those transplant teams posting the best outcomes.”
That data, says Van Dyke, "comes to us risk-adjusted by transplant center and team—so we have the cleanest data set in healthcare to rank the lowest-rated to the number one outcome provider in the country.”
For example, should a covered member require a liver transplant, he explains, “INTERLINK’s narrow-performance network directs them to a facility where the surgical team is high-performance, high-competency. We’re looking for a great member outcome, which almost always comes with a lower cost.”
A New Era in Cancer Care Management
As Van Dyke continues to work with brokers, consultants and health plans of all types to incorporate the Centers of Excellence model to cancer treatment, he understands that the healthcare market can be slow to adapt to new concepts. Yet after nearly three decades working in the business, he is confident INTERLINK’s solution is about to have a significant impact.
“I see the cancer care and transplant programs as examples of today’s most important initiatives,” he says. “Our focus is on quality care, and the outcome of quality care is reduced price. So if healthcare moves on this pathway, I believe this is how we’re going to solve our healthcare crisis.”