Centralized approach to diagnostics providing unique advantages to oncologists and cancer patients
Fort Myers, Fla., September 20, 2019 – Complete, accurate and timely pathology reports are critical to cancer diagnosis and treatment. While cancer patients rarely, if ever, interact with the skilled physicians who evaluate their cells and tissues, pathologists are integral members of the cancer care team. To serve its growing network of community-based oncology practices, American Oncology Network, LLC (AON) has doubled the size of its centralized Pathology Laboratory. A ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled this month at the newly constructed facility located in Fort Myers, Florida.
The AON Pathology Laboratory currently serves nearly 50 physicians in seven states with a testing menu that includes flow cytometry, histology and immunohistochemistry, cytogenetics, FISH (florescence in-situ hybridization) and central lab services. While the type of testing performed at the lab does not depart much from that provided by in-hospital or reference labs, AON’s centralized approach yields numerous advantages to oncologists and their patients.
“Our lab and our staff are seamlessly integrated into daily patient care and we maintain highly personal communication with the oncologists we serve,” said Dr. Ryan Olson, medical director of AON’s Pathology Laboratory.
“The advantage of having direct access to patient health information through AON’s state-of-the-art electronic medical records system cannot be overstated,” he added. “Because we can see a patient’s complete health history, we know exactly why the testing has been ordered and what questions the oncologist wants answered.” When a pathologist discovers that additional testing of a specimen is necessary to obtain a more precise diagnosis, they are often able to make the appropriate request immediately, which increases turn-around time and minimizes unnecessary testing.
Despite the fact that the oncologists and pathologists are in different states, they are connected instantly via phone, email or text to discuss special testing requests, for in-depth review of a lab report or for general pathology questions.
The AON Pathology Laboratory has earned “Gold Standard” certification from the College of American Pathologists (CAP). Through consistent use of Lean and Six Sigma tools to engineer process improvements and efficiencies, turnaround times are superior to industry norms. With wait times for test results minimized, patient anxiety can be greatly reduced.
“Since all of our testing is centralized and streamlined, we aim for 75 percent of flow cytometry to be signed out the day after it’s drawn and nearly 100 percent within two days of being drawn,” said Dr. Olson. “Nearly all tests are complete within one week or less, with only the exception of some outsourced molecular testing that can take longer.”
Dr. Michael Castine III, lead physician with Hematology/Oncology Clinic in Baton Rouge, LA, one of the first to join AON in September 2018, says his practice has seen enhanced results through the adoption of best practices and access to increased resources. “Through centralized ancillaries such as clinical lab and pathology, AON helps us take care of our business so we can focus on our patients.”
The Pathology Lab’s new location means there is room to grow. A Cytogenetics Lab Center was recently added. Dr. Olson and his team of hematopathologists and surgical pathologists are actively exploring the possible expansion of molecular testing to include NGS (next generation sequencing) for both hematologic and surgical pathology specimens. The team is also positioned to serve the additional five practices in four states that will join AON by the first of next year.
AON CEO Brad Prechtl, MBA says the ongoing investment in pathology services is well placed. “Pathology is at the core of oncology practice and clinical research and we will continue to make investments to enhance the effectiveness of community-based oncology care.”
“Our world-class pathologists serve and support our partner physicians with specialized expertise that helps to inform and direct the very best care plan and clinical outcome for each patient we serve,” said AON Board Member & Chairman Dr. Stephen Orman.
About American Oncology Network, LLC: (AONcology.com)
American Oncology Network, LLC (AON) is an alliance of physicians and seasoned healthcare leaders partnering to ensure the long-term success of community oncology. Founded in 2017, the rapidly growing AON network represents more than 50 physicians and over ten nurse practitioners practicing across seven states. The executive management team of AON brings more than three decades of oncology practice management experience, enabling physicians to focus on what matters most – providing the highest quality care for patients.
The organization provides unique and comprehensive protocols for managing administrative procedures and enhancing ancillary services for its affiliates. AON is able to aggregate volume and attain economies of scale, as it guides its member physicians and practices through the transition to value-based reimbursement models that improve the patient experience and help to reduce the per-capita cost of cancer care.
AON also provides a unique model of physician led, community-based oncology management. With services such as a centralized specialty pharmacy, diagnostics, pathology, fully integrated electronic medical records, a care management team and a variety of financial assistance programs, an alliance with AON ensures that patients’ experiences will be at the very pinnacle of cancer care today.
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