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Advancing Cancer Care Delivery Research in the Next Decade

, by Robert Croyle, Ph.D.

Robert Croyle, Ph.D., Director, NCI Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences

Ongoing concerns regarding the cost and quality of cancer care have led many organizations to focus greater attention on the non-biological factors that contribute to variation in outcomes. Health care delivery systems are struggling to understand how best to increase their efficiency while ensuring the appropriate utilization of new technologies and therapies. 

Health services research plays an essential role in the development of strategies to improve the quality and value of care. This research incorporates patient experiences and, increasingly, provider perspectives. Research resources such as registries, cohorts, administrative data, and clinical trials infrastructure provide important foundations for understanding the factors that influence cancer care in the United States.

Reports from the Institute of Medicine and other organizations have helped focus the cancer community’s attention on the many gaps in knowledge that need to be addressed to improve cancer care quality. For example, the hallmark Institute of Medicine report, Delivering High-Quality Cancer Care, highlighted the continuing need to increase access, affordability, patient-centeredness, and the use of evidence throughout the cancer control continuum. The American Society of Clinical Oncology recently called attention to the need to tap the potential of health information technology to improve care, better understand non-medical approaches to symptom management, and plan for workforce shortages. Ongoing health care reform efforts create uncertainty in how best to address these and other pressing issues in cancer care.

Historically, NCI’s Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS) has supported a small portfolio of health services and patterns-of-care research. However, it has become clear in recent years that a more substantial and coordinated effort is needed to advance the science of cancer care delivery to help address some of the complex problems facing our health care systems.      

For this reason, DCCPS has created a new Healthcare Delivery Research Program (HDRP). The goal of this new program is to strengthen our support and coordination of research in ways that both improve survival and enhance patient experiences with care across the full cancer control continuum, from screening  through end-of-life care. In addition, HDRP will assess the financial burden of cancer on individuals and society. The inclusion of a new cancer care delivery research component within NCI’s National Community Oncology Research Program also reflects the institute’s strengthened commitment to this area of research.

Over the next year, HDRP’s leadership will engage internal and external experts to help identify the most important scientific questions in health care delivery research for the next decade. DCCPS has a long history of working alongside many of our funded researchers and partners, who contribute ideas and feedback as we continually assess and evaluate our progress. By stimulating new ideas about high-priority, longer-term opportunities and goals, we will be better able to answer key questions shaping our nation’s cancer control strategy for the future.

The HDRP vision is patient-centered, evidence-based care that minimizes the burden of cancer on individuals and society. I invite your input as we seek to achieve this vision by supporting innovative methodological, observational, and interventional research to understand and improve care delivery.

Related Resources

An Introduction to NCI’s Healthcare Delivery Research Program (video)

Healthcare Delivery Research Program

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