With substantial funding from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), an important new study is underway exploring whether systematic collection of patient-reported outcomes (PROs) during cancer treatment results in better care. The size of the grant – $5.43 million over five years – and the ambitious scope of the project is one of the latest examples of how the oncology community is challenging itself to become more patient-centric in its approach to both clinical care and new drug development.
The national trial will investigate whether integrating patient-reported symptoms into care management can improve the patient’s quality of care and quality of life. The study will also measure the impact of patient self-reporting on the healthcare delivery system, particularly in terms of emergency room and hospital visits. In fact, demonstrating that improving PROs can also save costs may be what it takes to convince one of the groups that remain most skeptical about the role and value of PROs in drug development and clinical care: payers.
As we found in a survey we conducted of 15 US-based payer representatives, PRO measures were considered only “slightly to somewhat influential” in their decision-making on oncology products. There was a clear split between those who view PRO data as “emotional,” “subjective,” and lacking “hard metrics,” and those who support its acceptance as an authentic voice of the “patient experience.”
A UNC study seeks to change that. It is being led by Ethan Basch, MD. MSc, director of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Cancer Outcomes Research Program. Dr. Basch is a national leader in the study of patient-reported outcomes and he is a major voice among those arguing that PROs should be playing a larger role in how the benefits and risks – and overall value – of cancer therapies are evaluated.
As the development of cancer treatments and care pathways evolve, the case for PROs is becoming more and more compelling and it will be fascinating to see what this study contributes to our understanding and payer perceptions. From my experience, when the patient voice is taken into account, outcomes are always better.
This post was originally published on Heather Gartman’s LinkedIn profile.