Physicians often feel like they’re walking on a tightrope, balancing their time and attention between offering high-level patient care and staying abreast of the latest studies and information. With only 24 hours in a day, collaborative communication, on-demand education and automated workflows can mean the difference between high-wire success and a free fall.
“I’ve been a practicing oncologist for 17 years, and I’ve seen documentation demands on clinicians increase,” says Davey Daniel, the Chief Medical Officer at OneOncology. “But what’s more difficult is the increasing complexity of care. I may see 35 patients per day, but each patient interaction requires that I pore over genomic reports, make selections from a crowded field of treatment options, prepare for their visit, and then maintain a to-do list after the visit.”
As a response to the pressure to get as much done as possible in a day, OneOncology was founded by community oncologists with the goals of enabling community oncology practices to remain independent and improving patient access to care in their communities at a lower cost than in a hospital setting.
They accomplish this in several ways, but one tactic that was very successful for OneOncology was introducing Slack. OneOncology’s team set up a Slack environment that maximizes value for busy clinicians by reducing email inbox noise and allowing physicians to communicate in an engaging way. Together, OneOncology and Slack have the potential to significantly mitigate physician task load and burnout, giving them more time to spend with patients and resulting in overall better patient care. And they’re just getting started.
“With Slack, we can expand the depth of knowledge we can share with, and between, oncologists and empower our providers with a superior physician experience that puts actionable information at their fingertips.”
Seeking oncology solutions with OneCommunity on Slack
Collaboration across fragmented—and often small—clinic sites can be challenging. As a potential solution, OneOncology launched OneCommunity, a secure, interactive online platform used across its network of 15 practices and more than 130 clinic sites.
The company then searched for a digital solution for the type of community and knowledge-sharing OneCommunity would build. When it discovered Slack, it had what it needed to take things to the next level and give physicians an innovative tool unrivaled in community oncology.
That’s because information in Slack is sorted, stored and shared in a user-friendly format on mobile and desktop devices. This setup is ideal for an oncologist working in a large or small practice who needs to communicate with specialists outside of their immediate network and learn about the latest clinical developments.
As Daniel says, “Since launching OneCommunity two years ago, we’ve connected hundreds of providers to share complex cases, trial opportunities and diagnostic reports. With Slack, we can expand the depth of knowledge we can share with, and between, oncologists and empower our providers with a superior physician experience that puts actionable information at their fingertips.”
With OneCommunity running on Slack, physicians can communicate in real time with a genomic concierge service, for example, and access a robust content menu, including clinical trial listings, virtual tumor boards and asynchronous learning opportunities.
Virtual tumor boards connect experts and improve experiences
When OneOncology evaluated its collaboration options, it determined that Slack was the best tool to help the company in the next phase of its journey.
One of its first use cases involved implementing virtual tumor boards. On these boards, for example, a lung specialist from Arizona can post images from a complex case anytime and obtain input from disease-specific experts within the network and across a large community of oncology practices. Members also can post, comment, and disseminate policy and education updates affecting oncology.
Access to this information makes it easier for clinicians to source expertise, enhancing patient treatment and experience and the ability for doctors to discuss and respond to cases promptly. Better consultation, discussion and therapeutic decisions create a direct line of access to high-level care, which furthers health equity, especially for patients in rural areas.
Precision medicine solutions empower physicians
Traditionally, cancers were treated with a one-size-fits-all radiation and chemotherapy treatment. But there are constant advances in medicine and treatment solutions. Neha Jain, the Senior Director of Precision Medicine at OneOncology, says the rapid pace of change makes it challenging to keep up with new scientific developments. One such development is the rise of precision medicine, which tailors solutions to the individual based on unique factors like genomic makeup.
Jain explains, “It’s using genomics to get into the intimate details of a patient’s specific cancer, and tailoring treatment at the individual level. However, it’s really hard to be a precision medicine expert on lung cancer and an expert on HER-2-positive breast cancer. You can’t be an expert on everything.”
Slack empowers physicians to source expertise in different cancers and new ways of treating patients, and easily share what they’ve learned as though they worked down the hall from each other. These digital “curbside consults” provide access to information that creates accessibility for high-level care no matter how far a patient may be from a large hospital or cancer center.
Real-time molecular helpline delivers faster results
OneOncology’s precision medicine team has also used Slack’s low-code workflows to easily build a real-time molecular helpline for physicians. One workflow, with highly structured fields, allows physicians to enter patient information plus specific genomic markers. That information is quickly filtered to notify the correct precision medicine expert, who can turn around genomic reports in 24 to 48 hours. Consulting on patient genomic findings enhances physicians’ ability to connect patients with a clinical trial or better understand rare results.
“Ultimately, it is critical information to get in their hands. And the reality is we wouldn’t be able to if we didn’t have Slack. This content would have limited consumption for instance if we relied on email.”
On-demand disease expertise creates a micro-learning environment
The Enhancing Oncology Model (EOM) aims to improve the quality of care for beneficiaries undergoing treatment for cancer while reducing program spending under Medicare fee-for-service. Often, there are concepts related to this model that oncologists hear or read about but need more time to learn.
Through Slack, OneOncology’s physicians have distinct channels with the latest clinical information curated and presented in an easy-to-use format they can share. For instance, the #eom-101 channel in OneCommunity offers an entire learning series of value-based care, all available on Slack with on-demand access to video clips and a research repository. This information can help them determine which clinical trials to pursue, review new drug approvals, and set pathology standards across the platform.
“We’ve created a micro-learning environment for them with easy, on-demand access to EOM content. EOM is just one model, but the same transformative behaviors drive most any value-based care programs,” says Duncan Allen, the SVP of Clinical Services at OneOncology. “Ultimately, it is critical information to get in their hands. And the reality is we wouldn’t be able to if we didn’t have Slack. This content would have limited consumption for instance if we relied on email.”
This on-demand disease expertise, while it enables an unparalleled level of care, also helps create efficiencies. “We fundamentally believe we are a value-based-care company, so all of our practices need to be engaged in the EOM,” says Andy Corts, OneOncology’s Chief Technology Officer. “It’s a great differentiator for us. It’s a great differentiator for them. It’s a great way to appeal to large employers. It’s a great way to appeal to payers. And it’s the right thing, ultimately, for us to do.
Driving innovative benefits with Enterprise Grid
Enterprise Grid is Slack’s solution for empowering large or complex organizations to work with the agility of a small company while tapping into the resources and shared knowledge of healthcare providers. Enterprise Grid links providers to educational resources they previously did not have access to, and that knowledge has led to several innovative solutions.
Multiple, distinct workspaces
One of the benefits of Slack is that unlimited, distinct workspaces can be connected within the organization, mirroring a company’s structure with Enterprise Grid.
OneOncology has taken advantage of this, compartmentalizing areas of its work into separate workspaces, including one for its corporate needs, one for OneCommunity, one for external conversations hosted in Slack Connect, plus many more for each of the oncology practices with which it works.
Allen believes that moving the entire corporate team to a dedicated workspace for OneOncology’s corporate needs has driven dramatic improvements. “The productivity of our entire team has skyrocketed solely because of Slack,” he says.
Patient privacy and security
Enterprise Grid was also the right plan for OneOncology because it addresses a vital healthcare technology issue: privacy. Enterprise Grid enables HIPAA compliance and other protected health information (PHI) security requirements to ensure patient privacy.
“Physicians gave us feedback that they really wanted their own space to communicate PHI, which is HIPAA-compliant. We don’t let our corporate users in those workspaces,” says Justice West, Senior Manager of Technical Integrations at OneOncology. “And we set it up so that if they ever decide their practice should use Slack as a communication tool, the infrastructure is there. It’s seamless. They’re already using it.”
Enhanced communication through integrations
OneOncology corporate employees who are already using Slack have found that, within their corporate workspace, patient resolution time has decreased and communication time has increased through integrations that include:
“Slack is the connective tissue that builds community between corporations’ existing and new platforms”
As OneOncology has acquired new practices, it’s been careful not to disrupt clinics with a “rip and strip” of all its systems but does require physicians to work within its emergency medical records system, Flatiron, and enterprise resource planning system, Workday. This allows for streamlined communication since those organizations also use Slack.
Slack, Corts says, is the connective tissue that builds community between corporations’ existing and new platforms.
In addition to seamless system integration, a thoughtful implementation and adoption plan also plays a critical role in driving employee productivity and is critical to getting the most value out of any platform.
The Slack Professional Services team worked with the OneOncology team to design the user experience, implement technical capabilities, and execute a learning plan to transform the existing OneCommunity platform into Slack. Because of the expertise and guidance of the Slack professional services team, OneCommunity members now quickly adopt and access workflows, videos and other innovations.
“The Slack team made us feel really great and gave us all of the information, all of the details so we couldn’t mess up,” said West. “Having a reliable, dedicated technical lead resource who was always available in the Slack channels was really helpful, too.”
The professional services team also partnered with OneOncology to create an actionable roadmap to ensure scalability and to accelerate future implementations to deliver patient success even faster.
The future of community oncology
The value of a network directly correlates to the engagement of its users. With the addition of a productivity platform in Slack, OneOncology has helped its 850 providers better care for patients in 15 states. Stakeholders have aligned on the platform, patient treatment options have expanded, and overall experience has vastly improved.
With Slack and OneCommunity, oncologists can step down from the high-wire balancing act in favor of scalable precision medicine. Now they can focus on what’s next, and the future is full of opportunities.