Healthcare commissioners – the organisations charged with purchasing health care for their local communities – often face the difficulty of knowing if they are commissioning the best possible health care, reveals a new report from ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) in collaboration with North East London Cancer Network, Roche Products Ltd and the National Cancer Action Team (NCAT).
The report, Improving cancer outcomes through value-based commissioning, shows how this purchasing knowledge gap has been addressed by a working agreement between a team of cancer specialists - the National Cancer Action Team (NCAT), North East London Cancer Network (NELCN), North West London Cancer Network (NWLCN) and Roche Products Ltd.
Their project looked at breast cancer care pathways and based on the outcome of their work, ACCA offers five recommendations for other healthcare commissioners to ensure that cancer care is quality driven and clinically evidenced so it delivers the best value for money.
Mark Millar FCCA, member of ACCA’s health service network and of ACCA’s Council, plus a healthcare finance professional, says: 'The team’s work has focussed on defining and costing a clinically effective care pathway for the treatment of breast cancer, and they have developed a model that allows commissioners a chance to see which services are necessary to deliver the best value breast cancer care pathway, and how much these should cost.
'It was clear during this project that the team experienced many challenges. But the project team has been successful in their aim to support the more intelligent commissioning of breast cancer services, and this has the potential to be rolled out to other healthcare commissioners.'
ACCA’s five recommendations for healthcare commissioners are:
- That NHS organisations be required to place greater importance on producing accurate costing information and to fully explain any large deviations from the norm.
- That all chemotherapy providers be required to run a chemotherapy prescribing system incorporating an accurate costing module.
- That organisations be strongly encouraged to collect and submit the nationally agreed cancer minimum dataset, which will facilitate consistent internal and external reporting.
- That the Department of Health introduce best practice, pathway focused tariffs to support more innovative and flexible delivery of services.
- That commissioners are encouraged to ‘think outside the box’ when planning services rather than do that same as before.
Mark Millar concludes: 'It is good to see that this North London based project has been successful and has the potential to be nationwide. But it should also be noted that it was collaborative working relationships, not contractual arrangements, which were the crucial success factor in this case.'
- The report can be found in the 'Related Links' section to the left of this article.