Oncology clinical pathways are used by clinicians to guide treatment decisions, and they’re used by many health insurance companies to approve cancer treatment plans. Pathways have been developed for single institutional use and by organizations for wider dissemination; therefore, there is variation among the oncology clinical pathways that are now in existence.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in November 2016 released its Criteria for High-Quality Clinical Pathways in Oncology. ASCO developed the criteria to assess the quality, utility, and integrity of clinical pathways in oncology.
ASCO's criteria for a high-quality oncology pathway focus on 3 key areas: development, implementation and use, and analytics. The criteria are that pathways are expert driven, reflect stakeholder input, and are transparent, evidence-based, patient-focused, clinically-driven, up-to-date, and comprehensive.
The pathways also should promote participation in clinical trials, have clear and achievable expected outcomes, integrate technology and decision support, have efficient communication processes and reporting of metrics, lead to outcomes-driven results, and promote research and continuous quality improvement. Possibly the most important of these criteria is that pathways are clinically rather than financially driven. The criteria for clinical pathways in oncology are available here.