The Economist Intelligence Unit takes a strategic approach to understand the impact of policy on lung cancer. Recommendations from our research, sponsored by MSD, will assist countries to improve systemic responses because outcomes remain poor and costs remain high despite scientific progress.
Our research centres on 13 countries: Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and the UK. Our literature review drew evidence from internationally-recognised sources and falls into 5 domains operationalised by 17 indicators assessing performance across the entire patient journey. After consultation with European experts, we populated our scorecard comparing policy and practice, examining service delivery, systems, access, financing and governance. Examination of preliminary findings in country workshops with clinicians, patient organisations and other key stakeholders enabled us to obtain nuanced information providing a clearer grasp on care than obtained from desk research alone.
While patches of good practice exist, no country scores highly across all of our measurements. All but one country has a national cancer control plan: 75% are over five years old and do not incorporate recent oncological innovations. Clinical guidelines lack details on accelerating suspected lung cancer patients for diagnosis, referral pathways to secondary/tertiary care, supportive/palliative care, shared decision-making and psychological support within a specified time. Cancer registries exist in each country, yet clinicians report that clinically-focused cancer registries could house important information. Only 5 countries reimburse all four commonly used biomarkers for lung cancer.
Room for improvement in lung cancer policy exists across all the countries and domains we have studied. Our workshops ensured we focus on the most important opportunities for improving the delivery of lung cancer care relevant for each country. Now, based on the recommendations coming out of the research and agreed upon by stakeholders, we are in the policy development phase of our work where our goal is to assist policymakers improve care for people living with lung cancer in Europe.
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All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.