WASHINGTON – One of New Mexico’s leading cancer specialists will discuss her leadership of a nationally recognized, innovative health-care practice as part of the Albuquerque International Association’s lecture series on global health trends.
Dr. Barbara McAneny co-founded New Mexico Oncology Hematology Consultants Ltd. in 1987 and built New Mexico Cancer Center in 2002. She told the Journal she will describe how the center has become a national model for treating cancer patients and discuss ways in which U.S. health systems could benefit from practices in other countries.
McAneny, who has been voted the “top doc” in her specialty several times by readers of Albuquerque The Magazine, will speak at the UNM Continuing Education on Sunday, Nov. 2. The physician told the Journal that she was awarded $19.8 million by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to duplicate the oncology medical home she created into six other practices across the country.
“It was awarded two years ago to see if I could duplicate it to six other cancer centers across the United States,” she said.
McAneny said that after practicing oncology in New Mexico for more than two decades, she realized that the normal model of doing business, in which doctors pack their schedules to maximize the number of patients they see each day, doesn’t work very well for either the patients or the medical providers.
“Most practices are scheduled, frankly, for the convenience of the physicians,” she said. “We’ve changed that mindset and structured our entire practice around, what does the patient need and how can we get the patient what they need when they need it?”
McAneny said part of the strategy entails getting cancer patients the treatment they need before they require emergency room or hospital visits.
“If you can keep people healthy enough that they can get their care in a clinic rather than in a hospital, their quality of life is better and they just do better – plus it saves a lot of money,” she said. “We created a software system that provides support for triage nurses so that we have a system that gets a patient to the right place at the right time.”
She said a big part of providing proper care is knowing when treatment isn’t necessarily needed.
“Cancer patients have to spend some of their remaining life getting health care, and I want to minimize that so that they can spend more of their life doing the things they want to do,” McAneny said.
The doctor also said she will discuss the financial burdens imposed by the disease, which can be more difficult in states like New Mexico that have high rates of low-income people.
“Having cancer is not just a medical catastrophe; it’s a financial catastrophe,” she said “In New Mexico, we have a lot of people who are barely squeaking by before they get sick, so we’ve always been a very cost-conscious practice.
“I’m going to talk a bit about the economics of health care in the U.S. compared to the rest of the world and why we need to make changes in the U.S. and how one small practice can make a change.”
The lecture series is sponsored by the New Mexico Humanities Council and Sandia National Laboratories.