PHILADELPHIA--The clinical practice guidelines developed by the
National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), to be presented
at the coalition's first conference in March, represent the first
step toward a larger goal--developing a database of how those
guidelines are used throughout the network.
"We'll collect data on how the guidelines are followed, the
extent to which treatment deviates from the guidelines, the cost
of treatment, and the outcomes of the treatment," Bruce Ross,
NCCN executive director, said in an interview with Oncology News
International from the network's headquarters in Philadelphia.
The NCCN, founded last year, is a coalition of 13 leading cancer
centers in the United States.
"Once we have a database," Mr. Ross said, "we can,
for the first time, go to insurance companies and managed care
organizations, and say, 'This is how we treat patients, this is
what it cost, and this is how the patients fared.'"
Mr. Ross, who had a long career at Bristol-Myers Squibb before
joining the NCCN as its first full-time professional manager,
said that he is looking forward to the upcoming conference.
"It will be the first public display of our guidelines and
the first time we will be able to meet face to face with the people
with whom we hope to do business," he said. He expects the
NCCN members to use the conference to "begin a dialogue with
the insurers, to ask and answer questions."
Those targeted to attend the conference include not only people
affiliated with the coalition's 13 member institutions, but also
interested non-affiliates and representatives from insurance companies,
managed care organizations, and the pharmaceutical industry. "Some
members of the pharmaceutical industry will speak at the conference
to present their side of the story," he said.
He noted that the group's practice guidelines will be copyrighted
and made available to NCCN members and their affiliates (hospitals
that are part of each cancer center's local network). A unique
feature of the guidelines is that they will be updated regularly,
perhaps as often as monthly, or any time clinical research provides