Concordance between Optimal Care Pathways and colorectal cancer care: Identifying opportunities to improve quality and reduce disparities

Australia is implementing optimal care pathways for many cancers, including colorectal cancer. Adhering to these pathways improves the quality of patient care and is associated with improved survival and reduced health care costs. This recent cross-sectional study aimed to examine how well colorectal cancer care conforms to the optimal care pathway recommendations prior to policy rollout, and to identify any disparities for vulnerable populations. Concordance was measured across 10 optimal care pathway recommendations. Results found that prior to the implementation of these pathways, a significant proportion of colorectal cancer patients received care that did not meet the optimal care recommendations. For around a third of patients, the recommended waiting times to receive a colonoscopy, see a specialist after referral from a primary care provider, and begin adjuvant chemotherapy were exceeded. Low concordance and some inequities (such as longer waiting times) were seen for rural and disadvantaged populations. This study highlights some key components of the pathway to improve care during policy implementation.

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