Supporting NHS Pathway Improvements in Cancer Care
By: Gavin Jones | April 21, 2016
Cancer in the UK
The risk of cancer increases as people age, and so the numbers will increase as people live longer – over a third2 of all cancers are diagnosed in people of 75 years old or more, and for people born after 1960, one in two2 will be diagnosed with a form of cancer during their lifetime
The aim of innovation is to improve cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care. However, developing innovative diagnostics and drugs requires significant investment and the implementation of personalized medicine regimens is complex, involving planning, training, and administration. This combined with the rising rates of cancer and people's increased lifespan is leading to both financial and logistical burdens for the NHS, in a time where budgets are under pressure.
Finding a solution
Improving access to innovative drugs has the potential to have a major impact on survival and outcomes for patients and whilst there are currently a number of available access routes at this time, biopharma must work with the UK government to create a more sustainable and equitable way of ensuring medicines access.
The industry can also support the NHS by providing pathway mapping and service redesign initiatives. These projects, sitting under the auspices of joint working, can really assist NHS healthcare professionals and payers navigate service and pathway efficiencies including wholesale service redesign. The most effective projects utilize project management and six-sigma methodology to really understand the problem before proposing pathway change and other solutions, the types of support that can be offered ranges from stakeholder workshops, data analytics, nurse programmes and patient support initiatives. Given the perceived lack of utilization of current NHS capacity management tools, simulation modeling is a growing area of interest for biopharma and the health service.
Pathway mapping and service redesign in practice
An example of a successful pathway redesign program took place in an NHS clinic providing patients with lung cancer follow up appointments. The clinic faced capacity issues and escalating waiting times, and staff were unsatisfied and overworked. A redesign of the pathway was required to develop a stronger sense of organizational control and increase efficiency for patients.
The redesign project mapped the current pathway to provide a baseline of clinic activity. Engagement with stakeholders via semi-structured interviews examined ideas for service improvement, barriers to service delivery, and alternate follow up options for oncology patients. Patient involvement was vital to the project’s success, indicating that 60% of patients would be happy to receive consultations over the telephone. Evidence was reviewed around clinic capacity, patient flow, and stratification, allowing for a new pathway to be fully mapped out and developed. Two nurse-led clinics and a telephone follow up clinic were established following the redesign, resulting in a reduction in routine follow up clinic visits. Staff morale also improved as a result.
The role of biopharma in improving innovation uptake
The biopharma industry can further support their market access activities through creating tailored local joint working programs with the NHS. By working in partnership with the NHS these programs can support decision makers in creating capacity within their services to fully exploit the effectiveness of new and novel therapeutic interventions in redesigned care pathways. By meeting specific local needs and facilitating pathway efficiencies it can be possible to accelerate access to innovative drugs and as such further improve outcomes for patients.
Read the full case study HERE.