Category Archives: Research findings

ASCO 2016 Health Services Abstract Highlights

I’m at the 2016 ASCO Annual Meeting right now. These are a few of the abstracts in Health Services Research that I liked in particular. Great work on all accounts, glad to see more people every year who are as interested in these topics as I am!

Very rarely, we can both increase the quality of patient care and cut costs at the same time. One of my favorite abstracts at this year’s ASCO meeting reported on one such case – increasing adherence to evidence-based cancer screening guidelines. Fewer inappropriate tests, less patient harm and down-stream costs from false-positives. Win-wins like this are hard to come by, and we need to pursue this kind of low-hanging fruit wherever we find it!

“The low-cost HM card increased appropriate cancer screening while reducing unnecessary testing and producing substantial savings to the healthcare system in a large urban cohort. In an era of expensive personalized cancer care, low cost-interventions to improve the quality of care delivery may help mitigate the burden on the health care system.”

Continue reading ASCO 2016 Health Services Abstract Highlights

Oncology clinical trial results: shameless self-promotion

The Urology Times is running a story on my latest published research, which had to do with the applicability of oncology clinical trials.

We looked at patients getting treated for stage IV renal cell cancer in the community (whom we have dubbed “real-world patients”) and compared them to those getting enrolled in clinical trials. To sum up the results, we found big differences – real world patients are older, sicker, and have more comorbidities than those who make it on trials. This has important implications for how we generate and use medical data. If real-world cancer patients look different than those in clinical trials, then how do we know that the drugs we’ve studied will work in the real world? Or won’t have worse or unexpected side effects?

The original paper, in case you are interested, is in the Journal of Oncology Practice here.


Cancer is bad for your wallet and that is bad for your health

There is increasing evidence on the adverse financial impacts of getting cancer. It is expensive, and patients end up feeling the pinch, even if they have insurance. This has come to be known as “financial toxicity,” one of the newest buzzwords in the oncology community. I just saw this recent abstract from this year’s ASCO meeting, out of the Fred Hutchinson center in Seattle, on this topic:

Aasthaa Bansal, Scott David Ramsey, Catherine R. Fedorenko, et al. Financial insolvency as a risk factor for mortality among patients with cancer. J Clin Oncol 33, 2015 (suppl; abstr 6509)

The authors of this study have taken this one step further. We know the impact of cancer on people’s bank accounts. But what is the impact of your bank account on your ability to survive cancer? Continue reading Cancer is bad for your wallet and that is bad for your health

How genome science and federal law increase chemotherapy prices

Dr. Scott Ramsey is as expert on health policy in oncology, practicing at the Fred Hutchinson center in Seattle. He recently published a piece examining the high prices of oncology drugs. Given my interests in oncology and the cost of care, this naturally caught my eye. Continue reading How genome science and federal law increase chemotherapy prices

New, expensive cholesterol med gets the go-ahead?

We learn today that the FDA is considering approval of a new cholesterol drug, alirocumab.

As far as I can tell based on the evidence we have so far, this is a prime example of how new technology functions to increase health care costs, rather than decrease them. Continue reading New, expensive cholesterol med gets the go-ahead?