More than 14 lakh people in India will have been diagnosed with cancer in 2020. This increases the demand for high-quality cancer treatment. Though there’s access to information about quality care, there is a gap in knowledge about the viewpoints of quality cancer care among different people. While it is essential to ensure high-quality patient care at any cancer hospital, the perspectives differ from person to person.
Different stakeholders and oncologists who are involved in cancer care have varying perspectives on quality. For example, patients assess care depending on whether they get timely and effective treatment for their disease. On the other hand, healthcare clinicians concentrate on technical competence and how care is given. A health plan will assess quality depending on the appropriate use of resources and efficiency.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has a history of evaluating cancer care quality and suggesting enhancements to the healthcare delivery system. According to the definition given by the IOM, cancer care quality is defined as the level to which health services offered to patients improve the probability of the desired health results and are consistent with present professional knowledge.
Accordingly, IOM defines misuse (poor surgical methods or medicines that shouldn’t be administered together), underuse (patients not receiving lifesaving surgeries), and overuse (unwanted tests, procedures, and medications). The IOM refers to good quality cancer care as giving appropriate services to patients in a technically competent way. These should be done with proper communication, cultural sensitivity, and shared decision-making.
Over the years, there has been significant progress in how an oncologist imparts high-quality care to cancer patients based on suggestions from the IOM. An increasing number of treatments in cancer hospitals are now targeting specific molecular aberrations. A different combination of treatments can be used to deliver the best treatment to cancer patients.
Cancer Treatment Quality Measures
Many groups have developed various cancer treatment quality measures with overlapping or different objectives. A few such measures include:
- Setting new standards and recommendations and endorsement of measures for quality performance with an increase in reimbursement systems that pay for performance.
- A PQRS (Physician Quality Reporting System) that focuses on incentives and modifications to improve quality reporting measures
- Focus on the process of care delivery and care structure
- Several certifications and accreditation programs that ensure high-quality cancer care
With the development of various measures, what is being assessed will finally decide the quality. It may not always correspond to what a patient considers as quality care. As an increasing number of measures are being devised, it is crucial to represent the voice of the patients. If not, there is likely to be a risk of focusing on improving cancer care quality. It may result in the recipient of cancer care finding no meaning in all these efforts. When cancer care quality initiatives are being developed, it’s essential to consider the perspectives of all groups of people. While the quality of care is often thought of as the end result of health care delivery, it is not just about health outcomes for individuals or groups. In fact, it can only be assessed by considering multiple perspectives: patient experience, system performance, and costs.
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