European Cancer Organisation

NEWS: Outcomes-based healthcare: an important opportunity for multidisciplinary care?

By Philip Poortmans – ECCO President (2018/2019)

Cancer care in Europe must meet its good news challenges - the good news that people are living longer; that scientific and medical advances are offering innovative treatment options not previously possible; and that professions across the cancer care continuum are developing increasing levels of specialisation. But this good news has implications for healthcare budgets. Continued improvement in cancer care may become stalled unless the health economics challenge of cancer care is met.

Can the concept of outcomes-based healthcare provide a solution? Is it something to welcome, or should we treat It rather with the healthy scepticism? It is timely for all practitioners and stakeholders in cancer care to reflect on these questions.

It is certainly true that there is misallocation of resource in cancer care. Indeed, a 2010 report by the World Health Organisation estimated that 20% to 40% of all healthcare spending is wasted.

It is also evident that the price tag attached to some products in cancer care, be they new medicines, medical devices, or other services, are not reasonably proportionate to the real benefit they provide over existing or alternative treatments. Furthermore, the largest investments by health systems do not always go to the developments that will make the most notable differences in outcomes for the patients.

Outcomes based healthcare therefore addresses matters of real substance. But can it deliver on its promise, and make improvement in cancer care more sustainable? Perhaps it is still too early to tell. However, as a passionate advocate for better cancer care, I can say that I want it to work.

Investment and spending decisions in cancer care need to be more evidence-based and less based on ad hoc and politicised pathways. The opportunity for improvement offered by non-pharmaceutical innovation, such as by enhanced multidisciplinary and multiprofessional care and the advance of all professional specialisms, deserve to be considered as candidates for investment by health budget holders on an equal footing to propositions put forward from the commercial sector.

This is why we are putting the exploration of outcomes research, value-based healthcare and the tackling down of waste and inefficiency in cancer care at the heart of the agenda of the ECCO 2018 European Cancer Summit.

We could all usefully know more about:

  • What outcomes-based healthcare really means;
  • Its advantages and pitfalls;
  • Its impact and resonance for specific areas of cancer care.

I hope you will be able to join us at the ECCO 2018 European Cancer Summit to shape the future of cancer care together!

The ECCO 2018 European Cancer Summit takes place from 7th to 9th September at the Austria Center Vienna. Information about registration and the programme is available at:

Published in the Summer 2018 edition of Cancerworld (May - June 2018)

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