The Emerging Boon of Information and Communication Technology in Multidisciplinary Cancer Care: A Force Multiplier With a Human Touch.


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Cancer care (CC) is incredibly complex and requires the coordination of multiple disciplines for optimal outcomes. Historically, this has been accomplished with multidisciplinary tumor boards (MDTBs), but the benefits, while perhaps intuitive, have not always been demonstrated with sufficient research robustness and validity. We hypothesize that this difficulty in demonstrating the benefit of MDTBs may be related to a delay in decision-making and operationalizing those decisions. The history and value of MDTBs are presented as well as their weaknesses and limited demonstration of improved outcomes. A major weakness highlighted by the challenges of MDTBs is the concept of total package time (TPT) (rather, the inability to keep it as short as possible); any significant delays in CC for any discipline may have a deleterious impact on any given patient's care outcome. Drawing on our own experience with utilizing information and communication technology (ICT) during an effort to apply accountability theory to improve specifically radiation therapy package time (RTPT), we argue that similar principles will be applicable in the improvement of not only the TPT which relies on multiple disciplines, but other factors of CC as well, such as coordination. Experience with improvement in RTPT is discussed and the underlying theory is demonstrated as a sound methodology to apply beyond RTPT to TPT involving coordination of multiple disciplines and stands to lead to the full realization of the benefits of the multidisciplinary approach. The complexity of cancer means that real solutions to optimal outcomes are also, by nature, complex, but here simple accountability theory is demonstrated that may unlock the next phase of multidisciplinary coordination. In this work, we argue that the benefits of the MDTB format can be fully realized with the addition of ICT, a technological breakthrough in the past two decades, while not forgetting about continued human factors.
multidisciplinary tumor board,quality of life,cancer care,total package time,information and communication technology
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