Radiation utilization for breast cancer and metastatic bone disease varies in modality, fractionation and cost, despite evidence demonstrating equal effectiveness and consensus recommendations such as Choosing Wisely that advocate for higher value care. We assessed whether the Oncology Care Model (OCM), an alternative payment model for practices providing chemotherapy to patients with cancer, impacted the overall use and value of radiation therapy in terms of Choosing Wisely recommendations.
We used CMS administrative data to identify beneficiaries enrolled in traditional fee-for-service Medicare who initiated chemotherapy episodes at OCM and propensity-matched comparison practices. Difference-in-difference (DID) analyses evaluated the effect of OCM on overall use of post-operative radiation for breast cancer, use of intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and hypofractionation for breast cancer, and fractionation patterns for treatment of metastatic bone disease from breast or prostate cancer. We performed additional analyses stratified by the presence or absence of a radiation oncologist in the practice.
Among 27,859 post-operative breast cancer episodes, OCM had no effect on overall use of radiation therapy following breast surgery (DID percentage point difference=0.4%, 90%CI=-1.7%, 2.4%), or on use of IMRT in this setting (DID=-0.6, 90%CI=-3.1, 2.0). Among 19,366 metastatic bone disease episodes, OCM had no effect on fractionation patterns for palliation of bone metastases (DID for ≤10 fractions=-1.1%, 90%CI-2.6%, 0.4% and DID for single fraction=-0.2%, 90%CI=-1.9%, 1.6%). Results were similar for practices with and without a radiation oncologist. We did not evaluate the effect of OCM on hypofractionated radiation after breast-conserving surgery due to evidence of differential baseline trends.
OCM had no effect on use of radiation therapy after breast-conserving surgery for breast cancer, or fractionation patterns for metastatic bone disease. Future payment models directly focused on radiation oncology providers may be better poised to improve the value of radiation oncology care.

Copyright © 2022 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.