History of the Society

Since 1985, Michigan oncologists and hematologists have been formally organized to promote best practices and ensure access to quality care for the state's cancer patients.

The Michigan Society of Hematology and Oncology (MSHO) was formed in response to unfavorable changes in Medicare reimbursement and consistent coverage issues with Michigan's private payers that jeopardized the specialists' ability to deliver quality care. Today, the need to advocate for the advancement of cancer treatment as a recognized, credible, unified, local "Voice of Oncology" remains.

In 1989, MSHO became actively involved in the first state legislation mandating oncology drug coverage. This law was expanded to include off-label indications. This landmark legislation led to development of an Off-Label Oncology Panel review process that is still viable and emulated throughout the country. The Society's influence was expanded when MSHO was invited to Washington to speak on Michigan's law as Congress formulated the 1994 Medicare Coverage Act.

Throughout its thirty year history, MSHO has paid careful attention to membership recruitment and retention. Policy makers and regulators have given the Society access because they understand that we represent 90% of the state's cancer specialists. As of today, the Michigan Society of Hematology and Oncology includes 390 physicians from private practice and academic medical center settings. Our organization provides educational, reimbursement, legislative advocacy and networking services to physician members as well as their NPs, PAs, oncology nurses, practice managers and billing staff members. Surveying and targeting the unique, local needs of our practices and clinics and employing a variety of communication vehicles, keeps the Society relevant and valuable to its members.

MSHO recognizes the importance of actively involving the practice administrators in all we do. This specific group can readily identify issues, encourage staff participation in Society initiatives and make sure the physicians maintain their membership. The alliance of the physicians and their administrators is something unique to the Michigan Society of Hematology and Oncology and crucial to our continued success.

Since the founding of the Society, strong physician leadership and vision have driven MSHO's achievements. Our Board of Directors, all oncologists/hematologists, represent all geographic areas of Michigan. The composition of the Board is well balanced. Physicians from large practices, solo practitioners and representatives from all of Michigan's academic medical centers are active Board members. Many Board members hold positions in national clinical and professional advocacy organizations. The talent and expertise that each of these overscheduled specialists bring to our Society is impressive. Being an MSHO Board member requires regular attendance at meetings and participation in subcommittees. With labor divided amongst so many competent and devoted members, burn out is low. As a group, there is a great mutual respect and dedication to our core mission.

Our members are connected with statewide and national stakeholders in cancer care. MSHO participates in the Michigan Cancer Consortium, facilitates the Michigan Working Group to Improve Cancer Outcomes and has ties to many local and national patient advocacy groups. The Society appoints the Hematology and Oncology Carrier Advisory Committee Members to our Medicare Carrier, Wisconsin Physician Services. We have quarterly meetings with the Medical Policy team at our state's largest private payer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan. We also work closely with the Michigan Department of Community Health, the Michigan Association of Health Plans and individual payers.

MSHO's Corporate Sponsors play an essential part in sustaining our initiatives. The aligned mission we share with industry to advance cancer care has kept these companies engaged with our Society. Corporate members have access to all open MSHO educational programs, priority display opportunities and participate in an Annual Industry Circle dialogue with our Board members sharing goals and concerns. In addition to financial support, MSHO has benefited from industry collaboration on training programs, educational resources and promotion of Society initiatives and membership.

Education, networking and communication build strong allegiance to MSHO. Rather than being separate functions of the Society, the integration of these services promote our mission and create member ownership of our organization. Our CME program faculty is traditionally recruited from Michigan academic medical centers. We offer yearly ASH and ASCO Updates and an Annual Meeting Symposium that reviews the current information on specific tumors. This is an opportunity for community oncologists to recognize those who are the local thought leaders on specific topics. We offer a yearly Oncology Fellows Board Review that confirms our educational mission and dedication to the future of oncology care in the state. OCN Pre-Test Trainings, Clinical Research Workshops and the Great Lakes Cancer Nursing Conference advance professional growth and offer nurses an opportunity to meet and share with others in like and different practice settings. Oncology Manager Roundtables, Hospital-based Oncology Economic Updates and quarterly Reimbursement Meetings address the challenges of the business of oncology.  All educational meetings are carefully designed to offer a setting conducive to networking and disseminating information about all MSHO initiatives. Quarterly newsletters, bi-monthly Billing & Reimbursement E-Bulletins, the MSHO website and direct mailings support education opportunities. The Society provides the services of a senior reimbursement consultant to support practices.

The Michigan Society of Hematology & Oncology has continued to flourish due to the commitment of its leadership, participation of its members and support of its sponsors. Maintaining a position as the "great neutral" among various organizations with competing agendas allows MSHO to be recognized as the trusted voice of oncology in Michigan. All decisions for Society participation are measured against our mission to provide advocacy, support clinical research and educate our members. Staying true to our purpose has kept our members loyal and our position as an advocate of quality cancer care solid.