Duke Health and WakeMed Health & Hospitals are expanding their ongoing business collaboration with a joint cancer-care service that will launch May 1.
Under the business venture, the two regional health care networks will send their patients to doctors and facilities in the new combined network, based in Raleigh and called Cancer Care Plus+. The collaboration will give WakeMed patients access to Duke’s advanced oncology services, while Durham-based Duke will gain access to WakeMed’s patients in Wake County.
Duke and WakeMed previously announced a similar collaboration focusing on cardiology in February. Tuesday’s announcement of a joint oncology program puts the health care networks in league on two of the most lucrative medical services that will be sought by aging baby boomers. As a result, most cancer services in the Triangle will be divided between two competitors: UNC Hospitals, which includes UNC Rex Healthcare, and Duke and WakeMed operating as Cancer Care Plus+.
Cancer Care Plus+ will be based at Duke Raleigh Hospital and will coordinate with the Duke Cancer Institute, which lists eight locations in the Triangle. Duke currently has 1,000 cancer patients enrolled in clinical trials, which will become open to WakeMed cancer patients as well.
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“Duke Raleigh Hospital will serve as the ‘epicenter’ of inpatient care, with WakeMed hospitals also continuing to provide cancer services with potential for growth,” WakeMed said in a statement. “The greatest benefit of this collaborative will be to provide a more programmatic approach to caring for patients with cancer across the WakeMed and Duke systems.”
The Triangle’s oncology care landscape was reshaped in 2014, when Cancer Care Centers of North Carolina collapsed and scattered doctors and patients to Rex and Duke. The clinic had once been the state’s largest private cancer clinic and employed more than 130 people at its peak.
Under Cancer Care Plus+, Duke and WakeMed will share revenues under a confidential financial formula. The combination will create a system with nearly 200 oncology physicians and other specialists. WakeMed has 40 oncologists on staff, plus dozens of general surgeons and urologists, gynecologists and other specialists who perform oncology procedures. Duke’s oncology team includes 150 physicians and 80 nurse practitioners and physician assistants who treat 70,000 patients a year.
UNC Rex provides radiation, hematology and other oncology treatments at five locations in Wake County. Rex also coordinates care and clinical trials with the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and the N.C. Cancer Hospital in Chapel Hill.
Duke and WakeMed are also discussing a potential partnership involving rehabilitation, but the two health care organizations view cardiology and oncology as areas of focus.
“These areas were selected by a joint steering committee as critically-important disease areas where working in collaboration, we could enhance the scope, quality and value of heart and cancer care in ways that neither Duke nor WakeMed could achieve alone,” WakeMed said.