Efficient cancer care

An announcement by US Oncology points to a new study that explores a road map toward improved efficiency in cancer care. Healthcare IT News has the story; here’s an excerpt:

The study suggests that leveraging healthcare IT, shared best practices, refined evidence-based medicine guidelines and quality measurements, contribute to the quality, safety and science of cancer care to improve patient outcomes.

Titled “Benchmarks for value in cancer care: an analysis of a large commercial population,” the report found that the key areas driving the spike in costs are chemotherapy, hospital admissions, emergency room visits and aggressive end-of-life care.
Cancer patients in a commercially insured population receiving chemotherapy averaged $111,000 per year in total medical and pharmacy costs – about four times the cost of cancer patients not receiving chemotherapy and nearly 26 times the cost of non-oncology patients. More than half of the cancer patients in the study received chemotherapy within the last 30 days of life.

The study was published in the “State of Oncology” supplement of the peer-reviewed Journal of Oncology Practice…The US Oncology Network partnered with Milliman, Inc. to evaluate the prevalence and costs associated with cancer treatment in a commercially insured population. They used Medstat 2007, a large commercial insurance database that contains private sector health data and claims information for about 14 million insured lives from approximately 100 payers.

Fourteen cancer diagnoses were included and evaluated in ten cancer groups including lung, breast, colon, rectal, pancreatic, ovarian, multiple myeloma, lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia and prostate. Study endpoints included analyzing the cost of treatment over one year and costs incurred at the end of life.

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