According to a new study by the Institute of Medicine released on September 10, cancer care in America needs a major overhaul. The report, prepared by an IOM committee chaired by UCLA’s Dr. Patricia Ganz, notes that cancer care in the United States is a system in crisis; urgent changes are needed to improve the quality of care and improve outcomes for people diagnosed with the disease.
The report attributes the crisis to the growing demand for cancer care among the aging baby boomer generation, rapidly rising costs, a shrinking pool of cancer care professionals and dramatic changes in cancer therapies over the last decade that sometimes make it difficult to determine which patients should receive what treatment. “We have a lot of waste in the system, where people are given treatments that are unnecessary and costly,” explained Dr. Ganz, director of cancer prevention and control research at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and a professor of health policy and management at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health. She added, “So we’re not just talking about underuse, we’re talking about overuse as well. So the lack of coordination, the lack of the ability to evaluate the quality of care that you might receive, is what’s missing in the health care delivery system today.”
Dr. Ganz said across-the-board changes are needed and that all stakeholders in the cancer care community, from patients and researchers to care providers, payers and federal agencies, must work together to reevaluate their current roles and responsibilities in order to improve care, quality of life and outcomes. The report stresses that healthcare professionals must work toward a system in which patients are engaged and informed, care is accessible and affordable, and the cancer care workforce is adequately staffed, trained and coordinated and provides evidence-based care. In addition, a firm focus must be placed on quality-measurement and performance improvement, improving health-care information technology, and translating research into clinical practice.
Currently, 14 million cancer survivors reside in the US, which represents 4% of the population. More than 1.6 million new cases of cancer are diagnosed each year. By the year 2022, that number is expected to soar to 2.3 million.
The full report is available at this link.