Value-based care can make a huge difference in the lives of patients. An ardent leader, Hilda Agajanian has aptly exemplified it through her institute, The Oncology Institute of Hope and Innovation.
Hilda is committed to providing optimal care for her patients during their most challenging times. Through her diverse background, she cultivates a patient-centric culture and optimizes patient satisfaction.
Inspired by her vision, we at CIO Look caught up with Hilda to learn more about her journey and contribution to healthcare.
A Switch to Healthcare
Hilda started her career in finance but made the switch to healthcare when she and her husband, Dr. Richy Agajanian identified a gap in the healthcare system. They saw the cost of oncology care skyrocketing and knew it was unsustainable. Together, they decided to start their own practice, focusing on patient satisfaction and outcomes. After opening the practice in 2007, they found that their model of highly specialized, community-based care delivered excellent outcomes while managing costs.
As the demand for their services increased, The Oncology Institute grew alongside its payor partners, innovating new ways to expand access to high-quality cancer care. When Hilda and Richy started TOI, value-based cancer care was uncommon and relatively unknown, but that did not deter them. They saw the potential of reimagining cancer care and what it could mean for patients and relentlessly pursued that goal.
Healing and Empowering Patients with Value-based Approach
The Oncology Institute is dedicated to healing and empowering patients through compassion, innovation, and state-of-the-art medical care. TOI is helping to rebuild the healthcare system in the U.S. by replacing costly, inefficient Fee for Service care with a value-based approach that aligns physicians, patients, and payors to simultaneously enhance quality and manage costs. TOI’s High Value Cancer Care (HVCC) model has been validated through research conducted by Stanford University which concluded that patients in the HVCC program:
- Experienced 30% lower inpatient admissions
- 75% fewer ER visits in the last month of life
- 40% fewer acute care facility deaths
- 25% Lower median total healthcare costs from diagnosis to death
- All while improving patient satisfaction by 14%
As one of the largest community-based oncology practices in the country, TOI is delivering on the promise of value-based healthcare and putting patients first.
Providing Best-in-class Medical Care
During Hilda’s time at TOI, she has spearheaded a number of innovative new programs, bringing best-in-class medical care into the community setting. She helped co-found Innovative Clinical Research Institute (ICRI) in 2011, which serves as the research arm to TOI. Today, ICRI manages 100+ clinical trials and serves as a leader in the advancement of new cancer treatments. It allows thousands of patients to access cutting-edge treatment in their local communities. Clinical trials aren’t the only specialized treatment Hilda has brought to her clinics. In 2019, TOI launched outpatient transfusion and stem cell transplant programs.
TOI is the first community-based provider on the West Coast to offer outpatient stem cell transplants, allowing patients and their families to avoid the hospital and recover in a more comfortable setting. Transfusions are a common element of a treatment plan for cancer and blood disorder patients that typically requires a trip to the hospital. By conveniently offering transfusions at all TOI clinics, patients enjoy the convenience and comfort of a familiar setting. TOI’s world-class cancer specialists deliver quality care that is compassionate, easy to access, and personalized to the needs of cancer patients.
Creating Beneficial Environment for Patients and Each other
The mission, vision, and core values at TOI inform every decision by leadership and every interaction between teammates and patients. The team at TOI is driven by four core values – genuine empathy, better together, strive for excellence, and unwavering integrity. By keeping the experiences and needs of others at the forefront, collaborating with colleagues, remaining committed to continual improvement, and serving as an honest and reliable partner, TOI teammates create an environment that is beneficial for patients and each other.
Constantly Improving and Enhancing Patient Care
TOI’s technology team is always looking for ways to enhance the care that patients receive. Whether it is rolling out a translated, ADA compliant website, expanding telehealth capabilities, or improving connectivity at clinics so patients can stream their favorite show during treatment, they are always looking for new ways to improve.
Being At Forefront of Innovative Programs
Moreover, TOI is at the forefront of innovative programs like research into clinical trials. ICRI hosts hundreds of trials, and TOI physicians serve as Primary Investigators, enrolling patients and contributing to research. As for cancer prevention, patient education and early detection are two of the most important tools available. In addition to promoting both methods at TOI clinics, TOI’s foundation, The Foundation of Hope and Innovation, historically contributes to organization leading research, education, and early detection.
Expanding Value-based Approach for Benefiting Patients Everywhere
Hilda believes outcomes-based cancer care is the future of oncology, so the biggest change she would recommend for the industry is expanding that model across the country. While value-based care has become commonplace in California, there is still opportunity to educate payors in other regions of the US about the benefits of this model to patients, providers, and payors.
Having dedicated her career to innovation in the oncology space, Hilda remains committed to that goal. She aspires to bring TOI’s cancer care model across the country, ensuring patients everywhere can benefit from the specialized, cutting-edge care TOI clinicians provide.
Staying Committed to Vision
Hilda’s best advice to women starting their careers in healthcare is to stick to their vision. “Hard work pays off, and though the long days won’t be easy, there is nothing more fulfilling than knowing you made an important impact on your industry and on the lives of patients,” she concludes.