The quality of patient care varies based on numerous factors, such as health care setting, geographic location, access to medications, insurance coverage, and treatment protocols. Recently, the issue of whether use of clinical pathways can reduce costs and inappropriate variability in care has been the subject of much debate. As clinical treatment guidelines and pathways are increasingly deployed in oncology practice, they have a growing impact on the quality of treatment and how it is delivered. To fulfill the current need to discuss the use of pathways and clinical treatment guidelines in oncology and to address how patient care is impacted by their use, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network convened the NCCN Oncology Policy Summit: Equity in Cancer Care–Pathways, Protocols, and Guidelines. The summit was a forum to discuss the use and implementation of pathways, including how much flexibility pathways should allow in care, pathways’ impact on public and private health insurance benefit design, what data is used to select pathway regimens and protocols, and ultimately what impact pathways may have on variation in care. The use and implementation of clinical treatment guidelines in practice was also explored from a variety of perspectives.
Correspondence: Jessica K. DeMartino, PhD, National Comprehensive Cancer Network, 275 Commerce Drive, Suite 300, Fort Washington, PA 19034. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The authors have disclosed that they have no financial interests, arrangements, or affiliations with the manufacturers of any products discussed in this article or their competitors; they are employees of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.
Level I Pathways. The US Oncology Network Web site. Available at: http://www.usoncology.com/cancercareadvocates/AdvancingCancerCare/DeliverHigh-QualityCare/LevelIPathways. Accessed July 27, 2012.
NeubauerMA, HovermanJR, KolodziejM et al.. Cost effectiveness of evidence-based treatment guidelines for the treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer in the community setting. J Oncol Pract2010;6:12–18.