The process followed in the treatment of a particular disease significantly determines patient outcomes. The process depends on the nature of the condition or specific needs of the patient. It is important to optimize this process, otherwise referred to as a care pathway, by improving the quality and efficiency existing in healthcare, cooperation between healthcare professionals, and eventually patient satisfaction. According toAgarana& Olokunde (2015), care pathways help health professionals to identify the right steps to take during treatment, largely because healthcare needs are unique to each patient.
Optimizing the care pathway often comes with the challenge of unclear cost-effectiveness even as new technologies offer the promise of improved outcomes.De Vries et al. (2007) also identify co-morbidity, cognitive impairments, poly-pharmacy, emotional problems, sensory impairment, functional limitations, and lack of social support as some of the problems that medical and nursing staff in oncology for older cancer patients face in their care pathway management process.
Although there is no one-size-fits-all solution for the challenges facing clinicians in optimizing the care pathway today, Brufsky& Lokay (2013) found in a study that clinical pathways program rooted in patient-specific web-based decision support tool can help reduce unnecessary variability and drive adherence to evidence-based medicine eventually decreasing the growth in cancer care costs.
Agarana, M.C., and Olokunde, T.O., 2015. Optimization of Healthcare Pathways in Covenant University Health Centre Using Linear Programming Model. Far East Journal of Applied Mathematics, 91(3), p.215.
Brufsky, A. and Lokay, K., 2013. How to develop and deliver pathway-based care. Hematology/Oncology Clinics, 27(4), pp.843-850.
De Vries, M., van Weert, J.C., Jansen, J., Lemmens, V.E. and Maas, H.A., 2007. Step by step development of clinical care pathways for older cancer patients: Necessary or desirable?. European journal of cancer, 43(15), pp.2170-2178.