Improvements Needed For Colorectal Cancer Care

Ottawa, June 2, 2021 – New research by The Conference Board of Canada has identified several opportunities for improvements to colorectal cancer care in Ontario and Quebec.

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in in Canada. This despite being preventable, treatable, and often curable if detected early. While colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates are falling among Canadian adults aged 50 and over, new challenges are emerging, including rising rates of colorectal cancer for adults under age 50 and access to new, often costly, treatments.

While care guidelines and standard patient care pathways currently exist for colorectal cancer in Ontario and Quebec, care delivery is not consistent across either province. From a value-based health care perspective, there are specific opportunities for improving colorectal cancer care delivery.

“The overall goal of this research was to better understand the alignment between current colorectal cancer care pathways and value-based health care principles,” says Monika Slovinec D'Angelo, Director of Health Research at The Conference Board of Canada. “Supporting the implementation of standardized patient care pathways centered around patient needs represents one promising approach to creating more value for patients and health systems.”

Taking a value-based approach to health care system design could improve colorectal cancer care in Ontario and Quebec including:

  1. Standardizing colorectal cancer care: currently variations in care delivery persist. This calls for a broader policy direction to care pathway implementation, where guidelines exist.
  2. Patient-centric care: existing care pathways appear to be more health care provider-centric than patient-centric. Health care trajectories tend not to be designed with patients’ broader needs and preferences in mind and are not clearly communicated to patients. Taking a patient-centric approach would ensure patient needs are better addressed across the continuum of care.
  3. Value assessment: patient-reported outcomes and cost-related data are being collected by individual institutions. To assess value, care costs need to be linked to health outcomes systematically.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought a disruption of services that has affected all aspects of the colorectal cancer care pathway, but it also led to a quick transition to virtual care delivery. This shift is expected to continue and presents further opportunities for driving value in cancer care by enabling better access, communication, and outcome tracking.

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