Oncology clinical pathway programs are evidence-based treatment protocols that outline optimal treatment options for patients with cancer. When properly designed and implemented, pathways can improve care quality and reduce costs. As payers, healthcare systems, and providers rapidly adopt these treatment management tools, how can oncology practices know if a particular pathway will ensure high-quality cancer care for their specific patients?
ASCO’s new checklist, “Evaluating Oncology Clinical Pathways Programs,” is designed to guide oncology practices in examining the pathway programs they currently use, or to evaluate pathways under consideration for future use. The checklist features questions that help practices determine if a pathway meets, partially meets, or doesn’t meet ASCO’s criteria for high-quality oncology clinical pathway programs.
Rising healthcare costs and the shift toward a value-based healthcare delivery system have led to the rapid proliferation of clinical pathways in oncology. In 2010, approximately 15 percent of oncology “covered lives” were treated according to clinical pathways—a number which was expected to rise to 25 percent in 2015. Today in the United States, more than 170 million individuals, including many of whom are in active cancer treatment, are potentially being treated under a payer-sponsored pathway.
For several years, beginning with establishing its Task Force on Clinical Pathways, ASCO has been examining pathways in oncology and has developed a policy statement, robust criteria for the development and implementation of pathway programs, and an assessment of clinical pathway vendors in the Journal of Oncology Practice.
ASCO’s pathways checklist and other related resources are available in the society’s online clinical pathways toolkit. Breaking news on pathways and other cancer policy priorities is available on ASCO in Action.