Following evidence-based care treatment protocols resulted in a 35 percent cost savings for patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), according to a study conducted by Aetna and U.S. Oncology, a cancer research and care network.

The study compared patients treated using evidence-based guidelines (on pathway) to those treated using non-evidence-based guidelines (off pathway). It was recently published in the Journal of Oncology Practice.

“We set out asking if care is evidence-based, how does it affect the quality of the care provided?” says Kirsten Anderson, MD, medical director and chief of staff to the chief medical officer at Aetna.

The pathways are treatment guidelines created by U.S. Oncology’s network of physicians based on evidence that has been published in peer-reviewed journals. These guidelines are proven to have the best outcomes with the least harmful side effects, according to U.S. Oncology. Aetna supplied data on the average payer costs for treating patients with NSCLC.

“Treating patients according to evidence-based guidelines is a cost-effective strategy for delivering care to patients with NSCLC, especially in adjuvant and first-line settings,” says Roy Beveridge, MD, medical director at U.S. Oncology.

“We also observed no differences in outcomes, suggesting that the added costs associated with treating patients off pathway did not translate to improved outcomes,” says Beveridge. “This is an example of cancer care that can save patients, and the nation’s health care system, millions of dollars and produce equally effective results,” he says.

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