26 August 2022
Cancer care is evolving, both because of innovative components of care and because of new and increasing pressures on health systems. Innovations in healthcare technologies, strategies, treatments and services have the potential of improving and extending the lives of people with cancer. As more and more people are living with cancer every year, and health systems face additional burdens, readiness for these innovations and other evolutions in evidence are increasingly becoming important.
Adapting to innovation
Innovation is essential if we are to achieve sustainable and effective care. Health policies, practices and processes must be easily adaptable so we can be ready to integrate effective innovation into day-to-day practice. This is particularly true for cancer care, as treatments have rapidly evolved in recent years, with many new targeted and personalised options emerging.
While such approaches to care are extremely promising, they also bring new challenges. Ensuring we proactively prepare for innovations rather than react only when they become available will make sure there is no unnecessary delay in treating people who could benefit.
Barriers to innovation
The reality is that there are major barriers to many innovations in cancer care, such as:
- relatively low healthcare expenditure on cancer
- complex regulatory and reimbursement pathways
- low awareness of innovative therapies
- limited training and capacity among healthcare professionals.
These barriers mean delays and inequalities in access to care are common. This can be devastating for people diagnosed with cancer, who may not receive treatment that could prolong or save their lives.
A systems approach to integrating innovation into care
The entire cancer community needs to take proactive steps to ensure timely, sustainable and equitable integration of innovative cancer treatments into health systems. We need to take an evidence-based and systems approach to the integration of innovations to ensure equitable access to care. We need to work together to identify and prioritise innovations that may deliver the best possible outcomes within limited available resources.
Oriana Carswell, Researcher at The Health Policy Partnership