Oncologists and researchers agree there are some gaps in their data, and are looking at ways to develop smarter care metrics—not more of them.
Cancer isn't one disease. It can be acute or it can be chronic. Treatment options vary, and they can be delivered by multiple providers across numerous care settings.
These variations have made it difficult for oncologists and medical researchers to develop meaningful quality measures for cancer care.
Their observations were validated two years ago by an Institute of Medicine report that concluded: "no current quality reporting program or set of measures adequately assesses cancer care in a comprehensive, patient-oriented way."
Many in the business of developing and approving quality measures for cancer care agree with the IOM's assessment that current measures don't provide a complete picture.
Along with the growing consensus that a better way to collect patient-reported outcomes data is needed comes a greater push to develop cross-cutting quality measures.
Many cancer care quality measures were initially developed by professional and specialty groups for their own needs, so the landscape of measures looks like a patchwork, said Tracy Spinks, program director for cancer care delivery at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
Spinks sees a need for both general and disease-specific quality measures. Providers could look broadly at measures such as functional status and quality of life during chemotherapy, she said.