Understanding high-quality cancer care: a summary of expert perspectives

Cancer. 2008 Feb 15;112(4):934-42. doi: 10.1002/cncr.23250.


Background: The Institute of Medicine (IOM) report Crossing the Quality Chasm proposed 6 aims for high-quality healthcare: effective, safe, timely, efficient, equitable, and patient-centered, and emphasized care coordination. Through interviews with nationally recognized experts in healthcare quality, perspectives on barriers and facilitators to achieving these aims for cancer patients were elicited.

Methods: In all, 23 peer-nominated experts with diverse backgrounds in policy, healthcare, patient advocacy, and research were individually interviewed. They were asked about barriers and facilitators to achieving high-quality cancer care, and information technology or other innovations that might improve the quality of cancer diagnosis, treatment, and surveillance. Interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed. Two analysts independently reviewed and coded each transcript using ethnographic software to elucidate key themes.

Results: The major perceived barrier to providing high-quality cancer care was unnecessary variation in cancer care because of lack of standardization or adherence to guidelines during diagnosis, treatment, and surveillance. Additional barriers included insufficient teamwork and communication among multidisciplinary care teams, lack of patient awareness and empowerment, diagnostic delays during provider transitions, and excessive reimbursement for treatment. Experts suggested improving cancer patients' experiences by standardizing care, adhering to guidelines, and using "patient navigators" and an interoperable electronic medical record accessible to patients and providers at multiple facilities.

Conclusions: Some of these solutions have been developed and tested, whereas others have not. It is hoped that these suggestions provide impetus for new research, accelerating progress toward achieving the IOM's vision for high-quality cancer care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Expert Testimony / standards
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, U.S., Health and Medicine Division
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Quality of Health Care / standards*
  • United States