Cancer Patient Pathways
In 2015 Sweden introduced the Cancer Patient Pathways . The aim is that everyone who is investigated for suspected cancer should experience well-organised, holistic and professional care without unnecessary waiting time. The time between a well-founded suspicion of cancer and the start of treatment should be kept as short as possible.
The Cancer Patient Pathways (in Swedish called standardiserade vårdförlopp, abbreviated as SVF) describe the investigations and initial treatments to be carried out within a given cancer diagnosis, as well as the maximum time limits that apply from the time of suspicion to the start of initial treatment. The cancer patient pathways are based on the recommendations for cancer investigation given in the national clinical cancer care guidelines.
The Cancer Patient Pathways Process
All Cancer Patient Pathways start with a well-founded suspicion of cancer. What a well-founded suspicion is, how it should be investigated and how long it may take before start of treatment, is stated in the National Clinical Cancer Care Guidelines for each cancer diagnosis.
The time limits are based on value-added time only and vary between different diagnoses and treatments. The time from well-founded suspicion to the start of treatment is measured the same throughout the country.
The goal is equal cancer care throughout Sweden.
The model for the Cancer Patient Pathways work comes from Denmark (in Danish: called pakkeforløb), where it has been in use since 2007.
The national working groups for the cancer care guidelines also produce the cancer patient pathways.
Implementation and follow-up
In order to reduce waiting times in care, the regions receive government funding to work according to the cancer patient pathways.
The funding is conditional on the regions reporting waiting times in a national database. The statistics are displayed online (in Swedish). They show the number of patients who are investigated within a cancer patient pathway, the number of patients who have started cancer treatment and the extent to which the investigations were carried out within the maximum waiting times.
Regions also need to report on patients' experiences of being investigated according to cancer patient pathways. This is collected through a questionnaire sent out six to ten weeks after the end of the investigation. Both patients who have received a cancer diagnosis and those who have completed a cancer patient pathway for any other reason are surveyed.