When cancer spreads to the bone, radiation can be used for palliative care to reduce pain. Current guidelines recommend that patients with uncomplicated cases receive radiation once. But a 2016 Partnership report found that the majority of patients in Manitoba and Saskatchewan were receiving radiation multiple times. The extra radiation didn’t provide additional pain relief and was costly to the system.
To change this, the Partnership began working with physician champions in these provinces on a series of outreach activities within the radiation oncology community. Presentations at the cancer centres were followed by province-wide meetings; 85 per cent of radiation oncologists attended at least one session.
The initiative is an example of how the Partnership and regional cancer centres are using standardized data reporting to identify and address issues that affect the quality of cancer care. In this case, the strategy worked. In a follow-up survey six months later, 90 per cent of the doctors who attended reported that they had changed their practice. Treatment data collected by the two provinces will be reflected in future Partnership reports.