The introduction of clinical pathways should be considered for diseases for which vast variation in treatment exists, drug costs are high and comprise a large portion of overall costs, and robust evidence for appropriate treatment is available. The effectiveness of pathways is heavily dependent on individual characteristics and the conditions under which the pathways are implemented. The best available evidence for treatment must be the foundation of clinical pathways. Practitioners using a pathway should play a major role in the development of the pathway, and accountability must be involved in its implementation. The variation in cancer treatment is particularly severe. Consequences of this variation are further exacerbated by the high cost of cancer care. When taking these factors into consideration, well-designed clinical pathways may be especially beneficial in cancer treatment. Current evidence suggests that clinical pathways in cancer treatment appear to reduce costs. Although further studies are needed to evaluate comprehensive outcomes to determine the quality and effectiveness of pathways in cancer care in a broad setting, the results of studies are encouraging. There is no doubt that health care spending must be restrained. Without dynamic changes to the system, the growth of health care costs will eventually become an insurmountable obstacle. Currently, several promising solutions have the potential to deliver cost-effective, high-quality health care. Multiple studies have demonstrated that clinical pathways produce outcomes complementary to many of these objectives. Clinical pathways hold a potential to truly revolutionize the treatment of cancer and possibly the practice of medicine overall.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Policy