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ASCO Review Finds Clinical Pathway Programs Adhere to Guidelines

Samantha DiGrande
Last week, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) published its review of the leading oncology pathway vendors in the United States in the Journal of Oncology Practice. The report found that overall, the prominent commercial pathway programs in the United States are aligned with ASCO’s evaluation criteria.
Last week, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) published its review of the leading oncology pathway vendors in the United States in the Journal of Oncology Practice. The report found that overall, the prominent commercial pathway programs in the United States are aligned with ASCO’s evaluation criteria.

The report examined clinical pathways offered by 6 commercial vendors using the organization’s set of 15 interrelated criteria.  

“ASCO conducted this assessment to provide more complete information about how current pathway programs are developed, implemented, and analyzed by specific pathway vendors. Equipped with this information, the oncology community will be better able to evaluate and use these pathways in practice,” ASCO president Bruce E. Johnson, MD, FACP, FASCO, said in a statement.

Though ASCO's Task Force on Clinical Pathways found some differences among the oncology clinical pathways and decision support tools that were evaluated—largely due to unique vendor business models and different customers—it also discovered that all vendors met key ASCO criteria for being expert driven, patient-focused, up-to-date, and comprehensive. Vendors also offered integrated decision support and provided outcomes-driven results.

However, the ASCO review found that as a group, oncology clinical pathways met fewer aspects of the criteria in terms of having clear and achievable expected outcomes and public reporting of performance metrics. This shows that as pathway programs enter the healthcare delivery system, more information should be provided about the specific cancer type the pathway is intended to cover, as well as what indicates on-pathway versus off-pathway treatment. Additionally, the review found that there is a need to ensure that pathway programs offer more in-depth reporting that reflects when the provider has gone off-pathway.

ASCO's task force also evaluated the vendors’ products against the criteria for high-quality clinical pathways based on publicly available information and in collaboration with the vendors. Some vendors actually modified their processes during the review, potentially based on the ASCO criteria or as a result of interactions with task force members.

“We are encouraged to see that, by and large, prominent pathway programs are adhering to ASCOs criteria for high-quality clinical pathways. We hope our assessment of the pathways landscape will help these programs make further refinements, with the ultimate goal of improving the care of our patients,” said chair of ASCOs task force, Robin Zon, MD, FACP, FASCO.

 
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