The competition for patients will increase in an environment of continued downward pressure from government and private payers. And even as those reimbursements decline, cancer centers and other healthcare providers will see costs continue to rise. "So, there is a need to be more efficient operationally. That is in terms of basic nuts and bolts and in terms of reassessing how to create better clinical care processes," Ziskind says.
While the need to improve value and efficiency isn't limited to standalone cancer centers, Ziskind says the centers are particularly vulnerable because of their size. "In theory, if there were a large orthopedic or cardiovascular hospital, the same dynamics would apply," he says. "But for the most part, the imaging centers, the behavioral health centers, even the orthopedic ambulatory centers, tend to be smaller and more responsive to local market dynamics, whereas a cancer center might get referrals from a multistate region."
Over the next five years, Ziskind says he anticipates that standalone cancer centers will follow the rest of the healthcare sector and consolidate. In the meantime, he says, cancer centers have to return to the basics around clinical and financial alignments.