Creating a viable solution for public and private partnerships.

On World Cancer Day the Union for International Cancer Control (UUICC) and the global oncology community are calling on everyone to use their influence to help close the gap in cancer care. Stepping up to the challenge, Icon Oncology the leading private sector provider of cancer treatment in the country, today said it is ready to assist the National Government to bring much needed cancer treatment to the currently uninsured population.

“South Africa is one of the most unequal countries in the world and our overburdened and tenuous public healthcare system currently does not provide for citizens who need timeous cancer care. Icon Oncology is ideally positioned as a partner to Government and on World Cancer Day we are adding our voice to the global campaign and reaching out to the public sector to create greater equity in healthcare provision,” says CEO, Anthony Pedersen.

Speaking at the commissioning event of a new Varian VitalBeam linear accelerator (Linac) at the Icon Oncology Cape Gate Radiotherapy unit in the Western Cape, Pedersen says that the solution is the adoption of value-based care, an alternative reimbursement and healthcare management model championed by Icon Oncology in South Africa.

Dr Ernst Marais, COO of Icon Oncology explains; “The reality is that who you are and where you live could mean the difference between life and death. Sadly, most of our population face socio-economic and geographical barriers to accessing life-saving treatment.”

The value-based care model advocated by Icon Oncology has a proven track record and is backed by more than a decade’s evidence. “Our studies and clinical data show that VBC can reduce oncology costs in the private sector by as much as 27% without compromising patient care and outcomes. The same model can be adapted for the public sector,” says Marais who presented the Icon Oncology solution to Parliaments Portfolio Committee on Health in 2021.

How does it work?

VBC places the patient firmly at the centre of their treatment by aiming for the best clinical outcomes and patient experience (quality) at lower costs to both the patient and funder. This means that there is more money left for life-saving treatment and less wastage on administration.” explains Marais.

Icon Oncology has built its model on four key pillars: rational selection, sustainable finance, reliable infrastructure, and an affordable process.

“In layman’s terms this means that we used evidence-based treatment protocols which have proven results and outcomes for patients; we have contracts in place with both private and public funders; we have a network of 150 oncologists who have capacity to see more patients; we invest in the latest treatment technology, and we have built an administrative system which reduces wastage and saves money,” says Marais.

Good news on World Cancer Day: Icon Oncology celebrated the commissioning of a brand new Varian VitalBeam Linac at their Cape Gate Radiation Therapy unit in Cape Town. Pictured here are oncologists from Cancercare and members of the Icon Oncology EXCO. Front left to right: Dr Hanlie du Toit; Anthony Pedersen, CEO of Icon Oncology; Dr Laura Serfontein and Dr Conrad Jacobs. Back row left to right: Hubert January, Head of Human Resources Icon Oncology; Dr Ernst Marais, COO of Icon Oncology and Dr Johann Riedemann.

Infrastructure investment

The new Linac installation at the Cape Gate Oncology unit is part of an ongoing multi-million Rand investment in new technology which ensures that Icon Oncology and its network of oncologists remain at the forefront of cancer care.

“Quality is at the heart of the value-based care model. It is a choice. This new machine is a collaborative effort of a dedicated team of cancer specialists who choose to make it better for our patients in South Africa,” says Dr Hanlie du Toit, one of the resident oncologists who will treat patients on the machine.

“We are leading the way in closing the gap in cancer treatment in Southern Africa by securing the highest quality, cost-effective cancer care for the greatest number of patients. Our vision to create one-stop oncology centres in areas where these facilities are most needed, and to continue to deliver the right care to patients, at the right time and at the right price”, says Pedersen.