ICON internationally recognised for improving access to cancer care

ICON has been recognised in a report compiled for the prestigious World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) for successfully driving down costs of cancer care.

The recent World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) in Doha, Qatar, attracted world health leaders from around the world and saw the publication of eight reports by leading experts showcasing innovative healthcare solutions from around the world – among them a case study from South Africa on the Independent Clinical Oncology Network (ICON).

ICON received not only a special mention, but was awarded a special case study spot in which the organisation’s innovative approach to improving cancer care in South Africa was highlighted.

“We are a small group from Southern Africa,” says ICON’s Operations Executive, Dr Ernst Marais. “For us to receive worldwide attention in this report is truly something to be proud of. It demonstrates that South Africa can lead the world when it comes to innovations in healthcare.”

ICON is a network of oncology specialists in South Africa who are working together to address challenges in cost, quality and access to cancer care. According to the WISH report, ICON is integrating provider and payer data from its members, which will enable it to identify waste and inefficiencies in the way care is delivered by providers and drive constant improvement.

As a result of its innovative strategies ICON has been able to reduce the average cost of treating patients in this model – with a financial saving of an average of 43% for breast cancer patients, 22% for colorectal cancer and 19% for prostate cancer. The impact of the ICON formulary has also been significant; over the last few years the prices of generic medicines have reduced significantly – some classes of chemotherapy dropping in cost by as much as 400%.

The strategies at ICON have included an automatic electronic software system that allows for instant authorisation from medical aids for treatment plans, speeding up the process for patients, as well as for doctors and administrators. Costs of treatment options are automatically calculated, providing clinicians with an understanding of the possible financial impact of a treatment plan.

ICON also features collaborative initiatives with doctors, who participate in writing protocols on medicines and treatment plans.

“It is not just about cutting costs,” says Dr Marais. “Our philosophy at ICON is to ensure that patients receive the best possible treatment plan and that access is opened up to more people with cancer.”

“For us it is not a war on cancer. It is a journey and there needs to be more support for patients and an understanding of what their needs are. We look at the best possible outcome for our patients,” says Dr Marais. This includes cutting down on inappropriate treatments or the use of expensive medicines or treatments when alternatives work just as well.

“Giving patients the right treatment while maintaining a high level of quality is ICON’s main objective,” says Dr Marais.

Read the report here: Delivering Affordable Cancer Care