Following the Turning the Tide Against Cancer national conference last Thursday, I’ve had time to reflect on what we must do next to improve how patients experience cancer care.
To make that change we must acknowledge key truths.
Science is driving us towards more targeted solutions and novel approaches to treatment. The clinical trials and regulations necessary to get new products to market must change with the science. They must be nimble to keep pace with the extraordinary advances we are seeing.
Coverage and payment decisions must also allow patients access to advanced treatments and not disincentivize innovations in health care. While new products sometimes seem expensive, we must remember that costs are saved by getting the right treatment to the right patient at the outset of care.
We must educate. Each of us has a responsibility and a role to play in educating all participants in health care about the changes we are seeing in cancer. We must educate patients and their families about the complexity of decision-making and share information with them so that each patient can make informed choices. We must provide resources so health care providers are able to stay current with the latest developments in care. We also must educate policy makers to ensure that negative unintended consequences of policies are avoided.
Everyone working in health care wants to provide patients with the absolute best treatments imaginable – and those we have not yet even begun to imagine. Sometimes that will require addressing very tough questions in order for personalized medicine to be fully integrated into the health system.
Finally, we should celebrate the improvements made in cancer care from innovations in clinical trial design, to imaginative diagnostic testing of solid tumors that allow for better targeting of treatments, and tests that help physicians and patients make the best treatment choices. Advances are being made in science that are extending and improving lives. This is no small feat, and while our goals are great, we must celebrate the achievements that have taken us this far, and acknowledge the policies and pathways that made those discoveries possible.
We have an opportunity and responsibility to change the future of cancer care through continued education and advocacy. I invite you to help be a part of this change by sharing your thoughts and joining us on this journey to turn the tide against cancer.