Jan 04, 2011
January 2011: At the National Cancer Policy Summit in October 2010, ASCO Chief Executive Officer Allen S. Lichter, MD, reported on ASCO’s ongoing efforts to improve cancer care. During his presentation at the summit, convened by the Institute of Medicine’s National Cancer Policy Forum (NCPF), Dr. Lichter discussed ASCO’s work on issues of critical importance, including quality measurement through the Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI®), cost of care, data collection and analysis, and patient and survivorship care.
In the 1960s and 1970s, cancer care was hospital-based and performed in an inpatient setting. Today, 80% of oncology care is performed in the community, and much of it is office-based. “Unfortunately, a dramatic increase in cost of care is causing an unintentional redesign of the system, forcing office-based care back into hospitals and further driving up cost,” Dr. Lichter reported.
ASCO’s care delivery focus
In his remarks, Dr. Lichter focused on three areas where ASCO is working to address this new reality. The first is a study examining the geographic access of oncology care through an analysis of the distribution of oncology professionals and oncology care delivery sites. The study will be launching soon; the full report is expected to publish in summer 2012.
“We need to understand what’s happening with oncology practices by asking: 1) Who is where? 2) What are they doing? and 3) How are they doing it?” said Dr. Lichter. “No amount of wonderful technology is going to make oncology care available for someone if they don’t have access because they don’t live within a reasonable distance to a practice.”
Dr. Lichter also emphasized the need to address cost of care in a manner that improves quality of life for patients. He addressed ASCO’s efforts to improve quality of care through QOPI’s self-assessment program and the formal certification program. He also emphasized the need for standard measures of quality and the importance of access to electronic data in quality certification.
Other panel discussions focused on the effect of health care reform on cancer care in the United States and current opportunities and challenges in cancer research. ASCO’s participation in the summit helped inform NCPF members about critically important issues in cancer care and will help guide the forum’s strategic planning to ensure that NCPF activities are addressing the priorities of the cancer care community.