Two doctors study a brain scan

Reducing equity gaps in cancer care through innovation and data

19 August 2021
Eduardo Pisani, CEO, All.Can International

Eduardo Pisani

CEO, All.Can International

As the World Health Organization (WHO) and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recognise, more than 20% of healthcare resources are wasted on ineffective or inefficient practices, and there is room for improvement in all countries to enhance health outcomes and reduce inequities by increasing the efficiency of health systems. 

All.Can works towards this goal by acting as a resource and thought leader through an interconnected network of national, regional and international public and private organisations. As an international, multistakeholder and not-for-profit NGO, we generate political and public engagement to ensure that resources are targeted towards achieving better health outcomes. 

All.Can defines efficient cancer care as care that delivers the best possible health outcomes using the human, financial, infrastructural and technological resources available, with a focus on what really matters to patients and society. Efficient cancer care benefits everyone – it means more equitable access to high-quality care and better outcomes for patients, maximised impact of treatment for healthcare professionals and therapy developers and reduced social exclusion and more economic growth for countries. 

To be efficient, healthcare systems must be resilient, innovative and adaptive to an ever-evolving world. This requires a holistic approach to care, an evidence-based learning system incorporating meaningful input from patients and caregivers, continuous assessments of products and processes, and transparency in reporting the results of healthcare interventions. 

Efficiency is therefore not about cost containment and our call to improve efficiency is not at odds with trying to raise more resources for health as long as these are used optimally. We envision a world where, by 2030, efficiency, effectiveness and resilience in cancer care are a priority at all levels of policymaking and care provision in National Cancer Control Programmes. 

Data are central to a learning healthcare system and to quality, innovation and efficiency. Indeed, harnessing high-quality data is key to enabling the unprecedented advancement occurring throughout the cancer care pathway. Innovations in data collection, analysis and use can help ensure that inefficiencies are systematically identified and remedied. This brings tremendous value to individual patients through more accurate diagnosis, personalised treatment and follow-up care. It also helps healthcare professionals better understand their patients’ needs and adapt care accordingly. At a system level, it can help improve care and identify which aspects of care benefit patients and health system efficiency the most.

However, as All.Can’s latest research project reveals, the implementation of data innovations in cancer care is still in its infancy and significant challenges remain. The main barriers to fully harnessing the potential of data include: 

  • data siloes
  • a lack of interoperability
  • unclear actionability of existing data
  • complex data governance, and 
  • limited ability to re-use data for secondary purposes, such as research

Overcoming these challenges is integral to ensuring the sustainability of health systems and fostering patients’ access to high-quality care. These goals are especially pertinent in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and health system recovery.

For this reason, All.Can issued a new policy report Harnessing data for better cancer care, aimed at policymakers, patients, care providers and decision-makers. The report explains how data can be used to improve efficiency in cancer care, provides specific policy recommendations to address the challenges identified, and calls on decision-makers to commit to embedding optimal use of data across all facets of cancer care, in all settings, for all people living with and beyond cancer. 

We believe that putting systems in place to collect high-quality, representative and relevant data, and to extract meaningful insights to guide decision-making, should be seen as both an investment and an innovation in making high-quality care a reality for everyone affected by cancer – narrowing the existing inequities. Put simply: data systems are as important to the future of cancer care as new medicines and any other therapeutic innovation.

Together, all our actions to improve the efficiency of cancer care matter, and will drive positive change across the health system and society. For cancer patients, this may mean hope for a cure for their disease, extended survival, and/or improved quality of life during and beyond treatment. For the public, it may be the prevention of cancer, prompt and accurate diagnosis, adapted care delivery and equal access to care. 

All.Can stands ready to support policy initiatives to improve cancer care efficiency, by generating new evidence and facilitating the exchange of knowledge and best practices, enhancing cross-country collaboration, and building new partnerships around the world, including with the UICC. 

Eduardo Pisani is the CEO of All.Can International, a global multi-stakeholder non-profit organization focused on improving cancer care efficiency. Eduardo has contributed to advancing public policy discussions from a close vantage point, having over three decades of international experience in executive roles for global healthcare companies and associations. He spent most of his professional life in Brussels and Geneva, where he gained an in-depth knowledge of the functioning of the European Union and of multilateral organisations, particularly in the area of health and pharmaceutical policy and legislation. 

Last update: 
Friday 20 August 2021