Collaboration in the oncology sector
- The COVID-19 pandemic prompted strengthened collaboration among national and international academic and clinical bodies within the oncology sector in the sharing of data and information, and timely publishing of content.
- A lack of access to timely and real-time health data remains inherently challenging for the health system and health professionals in delivering evidence-based and personalised cancer care. This issue has been particularly highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic as real time data is required to measure the impact of the pandemic on cancer outcomes and mitigate the risks related to COVID-19 in cancer patients.1
- There has been an unprecedented collaborative response by the cancer community, both in Australia and internationally, to coordinate data collection, and develop patient support materials and guidance. Examples include:
Impact of change
- Collaborative efforts to collect, share and analyse observational data has enabled the findings to inform clinical practice in real-time. This has helped to improve outcomes for cancer patients.8
- Additionally, pooling of real-world data made it possible to rapidly accumulate knowledge and support dissemination of information and guidance for people affected by cancer.2,5
- The sharing of experiences and literature has increased the consistency and timeliness of evidence-based care recommendations.9
How can high-value changes be embedded or enhanced?
The following strategies were identified in Australian and international literature and by leading Australian cancer experts and consumers. This list is provided to prompt considerations and future strategies to support high-value cancer care in the Recovery phases of the COVID-19 pandemic.
These strategies are listed at the system-, service-, practitioner-, and patient-levels and are intended to be used by a range of cancer control stakeholders across Australia to support high-value cancer care and improve outcomes for people with cancer.
- Supporting continuation of national and international collaborations post-pandemic, with consideration of how to improve the feasibility and sustainability of such collaborations.
- Facilitating collaboration between State and Territory cancer registries, the Commonwealth Department of Health and government agencies, such as the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and Cancer Australia, to enable timely access to cancer data for clinicians and researchers.
- Identifying opportunities for further leveraging collaboration in the oncology sector, such as to better incorporate mathematical oncology (the use of mathematics, modelling and simulation to study cancer)10 and bioengineering expertise into clinical trial design and decision-making tools to more effectively manage cancer in the future.11
- Establishing a system-wide accreditation processes to share cancer workforce across public and private institutions, and metropolitan and rural sites.7
- Increasing close cooperation between clinicians and health administration to allow issues of concern to be discussed, with plans and new procedures made with rapid decision-making, clarity and unity of purpose.12
- Increasing collaboration between cancer services and specialist palliative care services when developing COVID-19 contingency plans.13
- Increasing support for clinical community forums, such as the Cancer Implementation Science Community of Practice14 and the Victorian COVID-19 and Cancer Network,7 to enable improved and timely data collection.
- Encouraging health practitioner engagement in collaborative studies in the oncology sector.
- Encouraging patient engagement in collaborative studies in the oncology sector.
 Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association. Nation’s health report looks in rear view mirror: real-time data needed. Accessed: September 2020; https://ahha.asn.au/news/nation%E2%80%99s-health-report-looks-rear-view-mirror-real-time-data-needed
 National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce. Accessed: September 2020; https://covid19evidence.net.au/
 COVID-19 and Cancer Taskforce Global Modelling Consortium. COVID-19 and Cancer Taskforce Global Modelling Consortium. Accessed: June 2020; https://ccgmc.org/
 COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium. Accessed: June 2020; https://ccc19.org/
 ESMO-CoCARE. Accessed: June 2020; https://www.esmo.org/covid-19-and-cancer/collaborating-on-registries-studies-and-surveys/esmo-cocare-registry
 TERAVOLT. Accessed: June 2020; http://teravolt-consortium.org/
 Khadra M. New normal post-COVID-19: Nepean’s experience. Accessed: August 2020; https://insightplus.mja.com.au/2020/31/new-normal-post-covid-19-nepeans-experience/
 Community of Practice. Accessed; September 2020. http://www.cancerimplementationscience.org.au/community-of-practice.html