Care pathways are designed to provide evidence-based treatment options for disease management, improve quality of care and reduce unnecessary variation in care. With the current movement toward value-based care and alternative payment models in the United States, care pathways are increasingly being utilized as a way to lower health care costs, particularly for chronic diseases and cancer. Providers also are becoming a driving force behind key aspects of pathway development and implementation.
A peer-reviewed study, “U.S. Care Pathways: Continued Focus on Oncology and Outstanding Challenges,” conducted by the National Pharmaceutical Council and the Analysis Group, assessed changes in development, implementation, and evaluation of care pathways, and reviewed the latest evidence on integration of pathways with value-based care initiatives in the U.S. The study found notable increases in process transparency, codification of standards, and prioritization of high-quality evidence, but additional improvements in transparency, including patient transparency, remain necessary.
Through a targeted literature review followed by an online survey and in-depth interviews with experts, the study authors offered five recommendations for continued focus as the influence of pathways on patient care continues to expand:
- Increase transparency
- Disclose conflicts of interest
- Engage with patients
- Effectively align care pathways with improvements in patient outcomes
- Integrate efficiently with other value-based care initiatives