Dr Zon, first author of the recently released ASCO Policy Statement on Clinical Pathways in Oncology (J Oncol Pract. published online ahead of print January 12, 2016; doi: 10.1200/JOP.2015.009134), was joined by Andrew Hertler, MD, FACP, New Century Health, and Dr Kolodziej to discuss the Policy Statement and its implications.
Dr Zon first highlighted some of the key recommendations included in the Policy Statement. She cited the importance of big data as providing an opportunity to learn from the 95% of patients not included in clinical trials, urging that more real-world research be done to evaluate clinical outcomes. At the same time, she said that pathway support of clinical trials is necessary, because clinical trials are needed to generate the data that supports drug approvals. She also recommended that target rates for pathway adherence should be flexible and should differ by disease.
Since the release of the Policy Statement, ASCO has continued to collect feedback from stakeholders in order to guide future activities regarding clinical pathways in oncology. A key insight provided from this feedback was the importance of incorporating patient educational tools into pathways. This allows patients to go from being fearful of pathways, and even angry about their inclusion in a pathways program, to understanding how the use of pathways can benefit them. Dr Zon also reported that payers and providers requested a rating system to assess pathway vendors and tools.
Discussing ASCO’s “roadmap forward,” Dr Zon said that the Policy Statement criteria is currently being refined, and an updated Policy Statement will eventually be published. She also said ASCO is working on a way to encourage adoption of their recommendations among pathway vendors. “ASCO is in this for the long haul,” she promised.