POEM: Rewriting Cancer Care

The Michigan Collaborative Quality Initiatives (CQIs) are able to connect providers and health systems to resources that improve patient outcomes, but the collaborations can go a step further to directly connect patients to their treatment plans in a more personal manner. Enter Pharmacists Optimizing Oncology Care Excellence in Michigan (POEM), a collaboration between the Michigan Oncology Quality Consortium (MOQC) and the Michigan Institute for Care Management and Transformation (MICMT). 


POEM’s goal is to improve oncology patient care and outcomes through the integration of clinical pharmacists in direct patient care within oncology practices across the state of Michigan. Through this interdisciplinary care model, oncology pharmacists provide clinical care to high-risk oncology patients resulting in improved performance on quality oncology metrics. 

A Powerful Initiative for Cancer Care

There are four clinical focus areas within POEM- Oral Anticancer Agents,  Immunotherapy,  Patient Education, and Symptom Management. POEM’s focus areas allow participating pharmacists to work collaboratively with the care team and patients to tailor the education and treatment plans to effectively maximize health outcomes. This could include comprehensive medication reviews, optimization of medication profiles via additions, deletions, or dose changes, coordination and/or escalation of care, education, and support.    


For clinicians, additional benefits of joining the POEM program include value-based reimbursement for participation, time-limited pharmacist salary support, and access to a network of clinical pharmacists with best practice sharing. 


Keli DeVries, Program Manager for MOQC states, “POEM is one of the most valuable initiatives we have in the cancer world because it provides extra care directly to patients and caregivers that otherwise wouldn’t occur or would be pieced together by other care team members in a less cohesive way. POEM demonstrably improves patient care.”


Since its launch in late 2020, POEM has already helped 4,700 patients through nine clinical pharmacists involved with the program. These patients have seen 12,300 interventions including 5,430 education and support cases, 2,640 medication modifications, and 2,010 coordination or escalation of care cases. In just under three years since its inception, the direct impact POEM has on cancer care in Michigan is undeniable. 

Recycling to Expand Care

In addition to direct patient care, POEM has launched three cancer drug repositories in Michigan. Prescription changes for cancer patients are not uncommon, and this can lead to wasted medication sitting around or expiring. The repositories collect and recycle unused cancer medications and distribute them to patients in need in underserved areas. This gets medication to people in need and in turn, reduces waste of these lifesaving drugs. 


However, the repository system is not without its challenges. The volume of medication donations from patients and the challenges in finding patients who could benefit from these medications before they expired revealed resource and administrative requirements. This led to the creation of YesRX, a new non-profit seeking to remove barriers to medication access for vulnerable and underserved people and communities.  


             YesRX is a free membership network that provides healthcare facilities with a network to access their cancer drug repository in an efficient and timely manner. Member facilities can accept medication donations from patients and transfer medication donations at no cost, view medications available in the YesRx Cancer Drug Repository, and request prescriptions to dispense to patients in need, all in addition to keeping medication waste from polluting our environment. 


The work of POEM and the clinical pharmacists taking part in the initiative are efficiently improving both the quality of care patients are receiving and providing more direct access to life-saving anticancer drugs through drug repositories, like YesRX. As only one facet of MOQC’s work, the impact of collaborative work on Michigan cancer patients is evident.  


To learn more about MOQC, visit moqc.org. For more information on the CQIs and other Value Partnerships programs, visit CQIs.org and valuepartnerships.com.

            To add a clinical pharmacist to your oncology practice via POEM, contact Emily Mackler, PharmD, BCOP, at emackler@moqc.org