Making Cancer Care Progress By Changing How We Assess 'Quality of Care'

Posted by Admin on February 2, 2012
Your doctor can pull up medical records to check the quality of cancer care you receive and judge if you are receiving the right treatments at the right time. However, it's ultimately up to you to determine the quality of your experience while receiving treatment.

Published in the journal Medical Care, researchers from the Regenstrief Institute and the Indiana School of Medicine examine the current means of assessing cancer care treatment and suggest new ways to empower patients and promote system transformation for the purpose of improving quality of care.

In the United States, cancer is the second leading cause of death following cardiovascular disease. Despite this, the federal government and health care organizations have fewer reporting requirements for cancer treatment quality compared to numerous other diseases.

According to Regenstrief Institute Investigator, David Haggstrom, as physicians explore treatment options for breast, lung, prostate and other cancers, both they and the health care centers they work in need to establish better tools to assess each individual patient’s values and preferences.

Dr. Haggstrom suggests that quality medical care cannot follow the one-size-fits-all approach. Patients need to be asked in detail about their preferences in order to determine what cancer care is most appropriate. Is the patient interested in being heavily involved in his medical decisions? Does the patient wish to undergo aggressive treatment or do they prefer conservative treatment options? Dr. Haggstrom and his team claim that they have developed a roadmap that they believe will offer a path toward improvements in quality measurement and enhancements in patient empowerment. 

First, they propose approaches that will impact how the medical field measures care for cancer patients, addressing such issues like racial disparities, wasteful overuse, and patient-centeredness.  Secondly, they also propose applying new models of care to address cancer challenges, like accountable care to coordinate treatment as it is delivered across multiple health care settings, as well as in-depth personal health records to deliver and collect medical information from patients. These suggested approaches may help patients and physicians establish better patterns of practice in the delivery of cancer care.

Stuart Diamond

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