Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, blogs about the question, “Can You Really Measure The Quality Of Cancer Care?“
Dr. Len concludes:
“…emphasizing that just because someone says one place is better than another, or one doctor is better than another it is important to keep in mind what information stands behind those statements, and how much transparency there is in the methods and the meaning of what they say. If “quality” it is based on lower costs alone, then that frequently is a non-starter since spending more or less money is not necessarily associated with “quality outcomes.”
Ultimately-in my personal opinion–it is spending money appropriately and wisely that is the key to success in cancer treatment. How we measure that accurately and consistently continues to be a significant problem. The good news-as mentioned above-is many of us are aware of that and are trying to do something about it.
We can’t let perfection be the enemy of the good, but as I have maintained for years, it would be terrific if the medical profession stood up and took charge of this issue, offered transparency into what they do and how they do it, and accept that we have a responsibility to our patients to hold ourselves accountable in some reasonable way to offer the assurances the care we provide our patients meets some fundamental measure of quality care. I believe our patients are entitled to no less. We need to measure and demonstrate our commitment to our mission and our patients’ expectations. Just saying we give quality medical care does not make it so.
In the meantime, we will have to settle for whatever quality measures someone offers-even if they aren’t necessarily the quality measures that really define the quality of care we offer or receive. A little transparency into the process would go a long way in providing insight into the accuracy of the data and the assumptions that are made based on that data.
Just saying you measure quality cancer care does not necessarily make it so.”
He’s reacting to one of my blog posts from last week that was based on a commentary by former US Senator David Durenberger that was based on a story by Jeremy Olson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Nice communication chain of events; let’s keep the discussion going.