Manasi Kapoor, Oncology Roundtable
With the increased focus on delivering value in cancer care, many practices have been looking to clinical pathways as a means to deliver high-quality, low-cost care, however, questions remain about the true effects associated with pathways and their impact on quality and cost.
To gain a better understanding of the impact of clinical pathways on cancer care, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) conducted a NCCN Trends Survey from March 14-17, 2012, at their annual conference. The NCCN collected 66 responses from a variety of oncology stakeholders, including physicians, nurses, and pharmacists.
The survey found that while cancer care providers generally believe that clinical pathways improve quality of care, the effect of clinical pathways on care costs is yet to be determined. Further details about the survey's findings are below.
Clinical Pathways Impact on Quality
- 59% of respondents said that they have implemented or are considering implementing a pathways program.
- Of these respondents, 74% are utilizing or are considering implementing a pathways program developed by their own practice or hospital.
- Additionally, of these respondents, 77% felt that pathways increase the quality of care versus 12% who felt that there was no change in the quality of care, and 11% reported that they were unsure of the impact of clinical pathways on quality.
- No respondents thought that clinical pathways decreased quality.
Clinical Pathways Impact on Cost of Care
To evaluate the relationship between clinical pathways and cost of care, respondents were asked how their overall cost for drugs and biologics had changed as a result of the pathways program.
- 58% of respondents were unsure of the impact of the pathways program on cost
- 17% thought costs decreased
- 9% thought costs increased
Following the results of the survey, NCCN hosted an invitation-only policy summit, “Equity in Cancer Care: Pathways, Protocols, and Guidelines,” on Friday, May 11, 2012, to further discuss how clinical pathways may influence public and private insurance design and variability in care.
For more information about the summit, please see the NCCN website.
For more information on clinical pathways, please view the Oncology Roundtable's blog post, "Clinical pathway adoption gaining ground."