Background and Context:
The New Zealand Government measures the performance of the health sector through six nationally set health targets that reflect significant public and government priorities.
The current cancer target is that all patients ready for treatment wait less than four weeks for radiotherapy or chemotherapy. This target is now consistently achieved.
Before the cancer health target was introduced in 2008, patients could wait over 8 weeks to receive radiation treatment.
To implement a new 62-day target that will further drive service improvement so that people with cancer receive timely access to quality cancer care across the cancer diagnosis and treatment pathway and improve overall cancer outcomes.
A new cancer target will be introduced in October 2014 based on a 62-day faster cancer treatment indicator measuring the number of patients receiving their first treatment within 62 days of urgent referral with a high suspicion of cancer. The target covers the wider cancer pathway and includes surgery as well as radiotherapy, chemotherapy and other treatment modalities.
Achieving the health target will improve quality of care, identify and support populations with poorer outcomes, make efficiency gains and lead to improved treatment outcomes.
The 62-day target is based on similar indicators used in the UK and those being established in Manitoba, Canada.
In introducing the 62-day target, consideration was given to: ensuring sufficient implementation lead-in time; ensuring high quality, consistent and accurate data could be collected and reported on; putting in place a target achievement of 85 percent; and clearly defining the patient cohort.
Outcomes/What was learned:
Transparency and accountability drives significant service improvement. Utilising sector expertise to develop consistent data definitions and business rules, as well as enabling quality information systems is also important for successful implementation.