Setting the agenda for cancer health services research

Effective cancer services and treatments increasingly depend on high-quality data insights. Professor Maarten IJzerman addresses the challenges at a joint VCCC-MSPGH seminar.

At a time when a third of worldwide spending on cancer is on drug treatments, clinicians are increasingly drawing on whole genome sequencing and liquid biopsies to assess which patients are likely to respond to a given treatment. Treatment decisions often involve difficult trade-offs, and the quality of these decisions depends on sophisticated data mining from cancer registries and other data sets. Governments and service providers also need these insights to ensure maximum benefit from health spending across the cancer and survivorship continuum.

Professor Maarten IJzerman, the inaugural VCCC Chair of Cancer Health Services Research at the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health (MSPGH), explored these issues at a joint VCCC-MSPGH  seminar on 19 September 2018. In the words of MSPGH Head of School, Professor Terry Nolan, Maarten is carrying out “world-leading work in a space which is moving very fast: health services and health technology assessment.”

Key points covered in Professor IJzermans seminar:

  • what referral patterns might tell us about delays from diagnosis to treatment
  • why simply boosting healthcare expenditure will not in itself improve outcomes
  • how we can model efficacy and cost effectiveness of different sequences of drug treatments, and optimise patient follow-up
  • Australia’s performance relative to other countries
  • Why public rankings of hospitals militate against organisational learning