Value and Quality of Care in Head and Neck Oncology

Curr Oncol Rep. 2020 Jul 10;22(9):92. doi: 10.1007/s11912-020-00952-5.


Purpose of review: The concept of value-based health care (VBHC) was articulated more than a decade ago. However, its clinical implementation remains an on-going process and a particularly demanding one for the domain of head and neck cancer (HNC). These cancers often present with fast growing tumors in functionally and cosmetically sensitive sites and afflict patients with differing circumstances and comorbidity. Moreover, the various treatment modalities and protocols have different effects on functional outcomes. Hence, the interpretation of what constitutes VBHC in head and neck oncology remains challenging.

Recent findings: This monograph reviews developments in specific aspects of VBHC for HNC patients, including establishment of registries and quality indices (such as infrastructure, process, and outcome indicators). It emphasizes the importance of the multidisciplinary team, "time to treatment intervals," and adherence to guidelines. The discussion addresses major indicators including survival, quality of life and functional outcomes, and adverse events. Also, strengths and weaknesses of nomograms, prognostic and decision models, and variation of care warrant attention. Health care professionals, together with patients, must properly define quality and relevant outcomes, both for the individual patient as well as the HNC population. It is essential to capture and organize the relevant data so that they can be analyzed and the results used to improve both outcomes and value.

Keywords: Cancer; Head and neck; Indicators; Quality of care; Value-based health care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Decision-Making
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Medical Oncology / trends*
  • Nomograms
  • Patient Care Team
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Quality of Life
  • Registries
  • Survival Rate
  • Time-to-Treatment