A Victorian Department of Health and Human Services partnership.
“The purpose of this work is to improve patient outcomes by facilitating consistent cancer care based on a standardised pathway of care. The pathways are applicable to care whether it is provided in a public or private service. The principles and the expected standards of good cancer care are not expected to differ, even though treatment regimens may vary from patient to patient for a whole variety of reasons.” – Professor Robert Thomas OAM Chief Advisor Cancer, Department of Health and Human Services – Victoria
The Victorian and Tasmanian PHN Alliance (VTPHNA) has been commissioned by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to support an integrated approach to the implementation of the Optimal Care Pathways (OCPs) for cancer into primary health.
The VTPHNA has entered into agreements with all six Victorian PHNs to implement the OCPs in their catchment. Statewide project management and coordination is provided by the VTPHNA to ensure a consistent approach, enable collaboration and information sharing, and avoid duplication of work where possible.
This initiative aligns with key PHN activities and interests in a range of ways, including:
- The PHN national headline indicators to improve cancer screening rates and to reduce avoidable hospitalisation
- PHN priorities including population health, supporting the health workforce, eHealth, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health
- PHN roles in relation to General Practice engagement, health pathways development, and integration of care for catchments and communities.
Each individual PHN is responsible for planning and implementing the project activities within their region, taking into account the specific needs and demographics of their population identified through their local Health Needs Assessment.
What are Optimal Care Pathways?
Optimal Care Pathways are national guides that describe the best possible cancer care for patients with specific types of cancer. The pathways describe the key stages in a patient’s cancer journey, from diagnosis to survivorship or end-of-life care, and the expected optimal care at each stage to ensure all people diagnosed with cancer get the best care, regardless of where they live or have cancer treatment.
Currently there are fifteen OCPs for different cancers and more under development. Developed by clinical experts in collaboration with consumers, the Optimal Care Pathways have been endorsed by the National Cancer Expert Reference Group, Cancer Australia, Cancer Council Australia, and the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council (AHMAC).
The OCPs map the patient journey, aiming to improve patient outcomes by facilitating an understanding of the whole cancer pathway and its distinct components to promote quality cancer care and patient experiences. The OCP resources identify critical points along the care pathway and the recommended care and timeframes at each point.
OCPs provide clinicians and health administrators with an agreed consistent nationwide approach to care that is based on current best practice including clinical guidelines, consensus statements, standards and research.
- Provide a mandate for service improvement
- Are useful in deciding how best to organise service delivery to achieve the best outcomes for patients
- Can drive service improvement priorities such as reducing unwanted variations in practice
- Are relevant across all jurisdictions and have been adopted nationally
- Are not intended to be or to replace detailed clinical practice guidelines
Localised HealthPathways for lung, colorectal, prostate and oesophagogastric cancers, as well as melanoma, are available across the six Victorian PHNs. Visit your local HealthPathways website for more information.