‘Cancer Outcomes’ Conference 2013

Read a more detailed BMJ Blog on the same conference here .

For several of us who do research on the quality of cancer services, the NCIN Cancer Outcomes annual conference is one of the high points of the year.

Keeping up with tradition, there is a large CCHSR ‘footprint’ on this year’s conference which ends today (Friday 14th June). We had two presentations and two posters on research about how hospitals can best use results from the National Cancer Patient Experience Survey to improve patient experience. We have also contributed to another two presentations and a third poster on variation in early/late diagnosis of cancer.

There have been lots of different angles to our work exploring hospital differences in cancer patient experience – most of this work was in the context of a project supported by Macmillan. For example, we researched whether the clinical and socio-demographic case mix of patients treated at a hospital does influence its performance. To which the answer is broadly ‘no’: Case-mix has only a small impact on hospital performance. This finding can help hospital managers and clinicians to overcome cultural barriers in engaging with the results of the survey, increasing their confidence in and engagement with the data.

We have also been looking at whether there is variation in experience across patients with cancers treated by the same multi-disciplinary team (e.g. between multiple myeloma and leukaemia patients, both treated by haemo-oncology services). If the answer to this question is ‘yes’, then this finding could help specialist teams in prioritising improvement initiatives for those of their patients that are at higher risk of a less positive experience. A paper from our group exploring this issue is about to come out (El Turabi A et al., Br J Cancer 2013, doi: 10.1038/bjc.2013.316). It examines this kind of variation in experience in respect of perceptions of shared decision making – but we will also be publishing a broader evaluation of the same question across all experience domains in the future.

Another part of this work has been looking at how hospitals who under-perform in multiple aspects of patient experience could best prioritise and concentrate their improvement efforts. Our work advocates an initial selection of aspects of experience that, all other things being equal, could be considered for prioritisation (or, and perhaps even more helpfully, for de-prioritisation). Our approach considers three dimensions encompassing not only hospital performance but also variation between hospitals and the reliability of performance measurement.

In the coming weeks and months we will be concentrating in developing a series of academic publications emanating from this work. We are therefore looking forward to opportunities for further updates on this work through future blog posts.

Katie, Gary, Anas and Yoryos


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  • The Cambridge Centre for Health Services Research (CCHSR) is a thriving collaboration between the University of Cambridge and RAND Europe. We aim to inform health policy and practice by conducting research and evaluation studies of organisation and delivery of healthcare, including safety, effectiveness, efficiency and patient experience.