Everything You’re Looking for in Medical and Radiation Oncology - Cover

Everything You’re Looking for in Medical and Radiation Oncology

How do you leverage functionality without sacrificing integration? Will you get the support necessary from radiation therapy equipment vendors to deliver the best care to your patients?

For the first time, KLAS has published a comprehensive report including medical and radiation oncology software and radiation therapy equipment to answer these questions and more.

Our report can help you understand the big picture of who and what you should be looking out for.

Combining information that traditionally would have been in separate reports, our recently published Oncology 2020 report brings together the following four market segments:

  • Medical oncology software
  • Radiation oncology software
  • Radiation therapy equipment
  • Radiation therapy treatment planning

When it comes to aging equipment and complex IT solutions, sometimes it can feel like technological innovations in these market segments outpaces the rate at which oncology practices and comprehensive cancer centers can implement them.

But from most providers point of view and the patient’s perspective, they can’t come fast enough. That is why it is so important for you to have the right information when making these massive purchase decisions which are a financial investment but often times involve change management

Who to Look For

We don’t need to tell you about the rising urgency for cancer care. There are millions of diagnoses every year, and they are becoming more and more common at younger ages.

In our research, it was awesome to see so many people be so passionate about their work. Most vendors in the space are doing their part to bring the best care to patients.

There are three types of oncology vendors covered in this report:

First, we have comprehensive oncology offerings from Elekta and Varian. These vendors offer solutions across all four market segments examined in this report.

Second are the niche oncology solutions from Accuray, Flatiron, McKesson Specialty Health, and Philips. These vendors have oncology specific solutions in one market segment examined in this report.

And third, medical oncology applications from broad healthcare vendors Cerner and Epic. These are vendors offer oncology solutions as an extension of their broader HIT portfolio and play in one market segment examined in this report.

What to Look For

Each kind of vendor has its own strengths and areas of needed improvement. To help give you an overview of what we found, we’ve identified three main themes, or needs, that stretch across each of the four market segments:

  1. The need for up-to-date functionality.
  2. The need for strong integration.
  3. The need for good vendor support.

Though each theme tells a different story for each of the four market segments covered, looking at vendors with these themes in mind is a valuable way to visualize the snapshot this report provides into the medical and radiation oncology software world as well as radiation therapy equipment.

1. Functionality

It’s no surprise that the functionality of your software or equipment will depend on your specific vendor and scenario. But at a high level, we saw that the broader the vendor was, the less functionality they had.

For example, we heard comments from Elekta and Varian customers who felt that radiation oncology was a bigger focus for these vendors compared to medical oncology, though both still offer a comprehensive medical oncology solution.

Whereas customers of McKesson Specialty Health and Flatiron, who focus only on medical oncology software, rated these vendors’ functionality very high.

Highly functional specialization is nothing new to the space, but with the entrance of oncology solutions from broad healthcare providers, we are seeing many vendors question whether functionality outweighs the benefits of integration.

2. Integration

When it comes to radiation and medical oncology software, integration is absolutely critical. Integration was a special topic of interest when conducting the research for the report because some providers are looking to see how it will affect their workflow if they move toward medical oncology applications offered from an enterprise EHR vendor.

A certain polarity presented itself for integration experiences depending on the kind of vendor. There were comprehensive oncology offering vendors who scored very high in integration and broad healthcare vendors who scored very high as well but for very different reasons.

Considering comprehensive oncology vendors focus solely on oncology, they do a good job integrating across medical and radiation oncology. Also, out of necessity they also integrate well with other healthcare solutions in the broader spectrum of the healthcare continuum.

Conversely, since some of the broad healthcare vendors do offer a wide suite of necessary healthcare software, they integrate seamlessly with themselves but can face challenges integrating with other radiation oncology systems.

3. Vendor support

Building strong provider-to-vendor relationships is key for provider success in each market segment. But the need for good vendor support is especially apparent for radiation therapy equipment.

If the equipment is down, you can't treat patients. That domino effect causes a whole myriad of problems which can cause treatment setbacks.

We love this quote from a provider executive showing the value of strong relationships:

“The field service team . . . will bend over backward to keep us up and running. We have had them here on nights, weekends, and anytime we have needed them. Even when we have frustrations with the vendor, the team has always come through.”—VP of oncology

Why You’re Looking

We need to do better. It’s not that we aren’t doing our best, but we can all agree that there are problems that still need to be solved. 

Providers are still looking at different systems for data. The data is not all together, which, at the end of the day, is not helpful for the patient and for patient care.

If you or your organization touches oncology at all, look into our full report for help to make your most crucial decisions. The technology won’t stop improving, and neither will you.

     Photo Credit: Adobe Stock, LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS