Department of Health

Key messages

  • Optimal care pathways (OCPs) have been developed in collaboration with a wide range of clinicians, consumers and carers.
  • On the journey of care the patients is the constant, and the health system is responsible for delivering an appropriate and coordinated care experience.
  • Routine linked data may help to measure the impact of care consistent with the OCPs on service system performance and health outcomes.

The care pathway is complex for patients undergoing diagnosis and treatment for cancer. Optimal care pathways (OCPs) map the care journey for more than 15 tumour types. For the most part the OCPs are based on current best practice, and include references to clinical guidelines, standards and research. In some cases, however, they are a statement of consensus regarding currently accepted approaches to optimal treatment.

Victoria has led this program of work as part of a national work plan for improving cancer care developed by the National Cancer Expert Reference Group (NCERG), which identified the value of a standardised approach to delivering consistent and optimal cancer care. The NCERG has endorsed these new optimal care pathways, which they agree are relevant across all jurisdictions. 

Victorian Cancer Quality Index 2008 – 2015

The Victorian Cancer Quality Index 2008 - 2015 provides statewide information on the utilisation, timeliness and outcome of surgery, radiation therapy and intravenous systemic therapy for Victorians with breast, colorectal, gynaecological, hepatobiliary, lung, upper gastrointestinal and urological cancers. The Index allows monitoring of the quality and safety of cancer treatment in Victoria over time, and in comparison to Queensland. 

Implementing optimal care pathways

During 2017 the department worked with the sector to implement OCPs for lung, and colo-rectal cancer. During 2018 the sector are implementing OCPs for oesophageal and prostate cancer.

Monitoring optimal care pathways

Care provided as described in an OCP should reduce unwarranted variation in cancer treatment as well as improve efficiency, equity and patients' experience of care. Linked routine data sets inform this work. Some of these analyses are led by groups of clinicians as part of the Tumour summit program, aimed at identifying important variations in care and improvement opportunities.

A series of data reports have been generated to help understand care delivery

The department is also working with the Commonwealth Department of Health to share, link and jointly analyse routinely collected Commonwealth and state datasets. The broad aim is to better understand the relevance of the OCPs as a tool for understanding variations in cancer care pathways, services, costs and health outcomes. This Optimal Cancer Pathways Data Project will help inform future policy development.

The Optimal Cancer Pathways Data Project: Interim Report is available below.

View the report

A series of data reports exploring variation in care are available below.

The Victorian Oesophagogastric Cancer Audit – report 2017

View the report

The Framework for optimal cancer care pathways in practice and it's associated communication strategy are available from the Commonwealth Department of Health website.

View the framework

The OCPs for individual cancer types are available from the Cancer Council Australia website.

View the pathways

Reviewed 30 November 2021


Contact details

Cancer Support, Treatment and Research Department of Health

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