The upshot is that tumor board participation does seem to be associated with higher quality clinical care.
—Deborah Schrag, MD, MPH
Formal discussant of the Quality Care Symposium presentation on the impact of tumor boards, Deborah Schrag, MD, MPH, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, commended the authors for the collaborative use of data to improve quality of care. “For this study, Dr. Kehl and coauthors leveraged the considerable strengths of the Cancer Care Outcomes Research and Surveillance Consortium (CanCORS) and linked unique physicians caring for particular patients. This is as powerful an observational study as we are likely to see on this topic. The upshot is that tumor board participation does seem to be associated with higher quality clinical care,” she said.
“The study shows an association but no causal link, but physicians who practice at sites that have the wherewithal to hold tumor boards have the training, colleagues, and expertise to deliver high-quality care. In other words, the tumor boards could be an ancillary effect, not a cause, of the better outcomes seen in this study,” she continued.
This issue needs to be further studied to identify what works and what doesn’t, Dr. Schrag said. She cautioned that patients and entrepreneurs are in the wings inviting doctors to spend a half-hour on the phone participating in tumor boards. “If we don’t get our act together, companies are going to get ahead of us,” she stated. ■
Disclosure: Dr. Schrag reported no potential conflicts of interest.