A new cancer diagnosis is a terrifying proposition for a patient. Subsequent treatment choices are complex and have profound implications on survival, quality of life, and finances.
Patients with cancer are unique individuals each with their own medical story. By contrast, current treatment guidelines are based on limited patient populations. Because treatment trials limited by recruitment, typically exclude patients with comorbidity and fail to differentiate populations based on gender, age and race their outcomes are of limited benefit to individuals.
Life-altering treatment decisions are also based on information that is complex and difficult for patients to understand. Most patients struggle with clinical literacy and many resort to internet searches for clinical understanding. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology study found that just 5% of cancer patients accurately understood their prognosis well enough to make informed decisions about their care.
The result of this is widespread overspending in oncology, and oncology care is responsible for almost one-third of health care spending.2 Furthermore, overtreatment results in unnecessary morbidity, expense, and even shorter survival for patients.
Physicians and navigators are strategically positioned to advance shared decision making in healthcare. By utilizing tools that are intuitive and easily understood by patients they may team up with patients to deliver treatment decisions that are patient-centric.