Value Key in Oncology Care

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For oncologists and other cancer care specialists, value-based care is essential.

For oncologists and other cancer care specialists, value-based care is essential. Experts who gathered at the 50th annual meeting of The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) this past week learned that value-based care focuses both on cost and quality—and for good reason.

“The problem is that the current system is unsustainable because it threatens access to high-quality cancer care,” said Neal Meropol, MD, FASCO, chief of hematology and oncology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland.

ASCO is currently developing a system which can rate and compare cancer treatments according to their cost, benefits, and side effects. Understanding the cost versus benefit of each drug is important for insurance companies as much as it is for providers and patients.

“The stakeholders need to work together to find solution(s), to drive policy, and achieve reform,” added Dr Meropol.


Presenters at ASCO recognized that variation in quality standards can harm patient outcomes. They also noted that current health models fail to address challenges such as inefficient use of resources and health inequalities. The value framework could educate stakeholders by increasing transparency about cancer treatment options.

Value is not just a goal in the United States either.

“All healthcare systems are struggling to deliver affordable and equitable cancer care,” said Richard Sullivan, MD, PhD, from the Kings Health Partners Integrated Cancer Centre in London, England. “Our global economic systems have become addicted to the returns generated by cancer care and treatment.”

Like ASCO, the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) has begun to develop a system which will rate cancer drugs based on a scale. Those treatments with the highest-scaled value will be promoted with the hope of standardizing quality and easing patients’ access to certain drugs. Groups such as ASCO and ESMO play an essential role in establishing cancer treatment guidelines that ensure patients have access to value-based care.

Around the Web

Cancer Doctors Urged to Consider Value When Treating Patients [Reuters]

How Do You Establish Value in Cancer Care? [AJMC]

The Oncologist Defines ‘Value of Care’ [AJMC]