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02 Sep 2020
2020 09-Sept

Executive Director's Message September 2020

  • Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre
COVID-19 will hasten change to new models of care

As we look toward the next phase in our response to COVID-19, I have been reflecting on the importance of the courage to take risks as a leadership attribute. We can all think of a time in our lives when we have hesitated, uncertain of the future, yet by moving forward we arrive at our destination wiser and more resilient. 

The past few weeks have been especially challenging for those directly involved in patient care. Restriction of family interactions in hospital settings; and encouraging patients in the community to be proactive in their health care requires an intelligent, compassionate approach. Getting this right for people undergoing cancer treatment has been a priority for clinical directors and hospital staff teams across Victoria, and they are not immune to the emotional impacts of safeguarding the rights and freedoms of those who have the most to lose. 

Once we begin to move into recovery, I think one of the impacts of COVID-19 will be an acceleration towards new models of care; models of care that consolidate placing patients at the centre. Issues of chronic disease management, the cost of health care, variability in equity and access, and an increased cancer caseload associated with an ageing population will also bring Value-Based Health Care into sharper focus. As we recover from COVID-19, this represents a significant opportunity for reform.   

What is Value-Based Health Care?

Value-Based Health Care seeks to harness technology and data to deliver a high-quality patient-focused health care system with outcomes achieved more affordably. The World Economic Forum's definition of value is, “health outcomes that matter to patients relative to the resources or costs required”. Value-Based Health Care adds more to the traditional Fee for Service model placing an emphasis on a full pathway of care and recovery from illness and injury and avoiding chronic disease in the first place. Ideally, it can result in a societal shift with patients making fewer visits to their doctor for tests and procedures. Spending on prescription medication would decrease as both short and long-term health improved. 

“Health outcomes that matter to patients relative to the resources or costs required”.
World Economic Forum

Digital reform and linked data

The VCCC Data-Driven Research Program is establishing capabilities that have major potential to impact on models of care into the future. It combines infrastructure, linked data, and expertise of the alliance to create a research-ready data platform. This new informational insight will help drive advances in multiple and diverse areas that can empower dedicated programs of work, including those on value-based healthcare, and targeted initiatives to meet the needs of vulnerable groups. 

Momentum in education 

The theme for the VCCC Annual Report 2019-2020 to be published this month is Future Ready. Part of that future is the 28,000 students, researchers, clinicians, consumers, and cancer workforce professionals to have taken part in VCCC-directed education and knowledge-sharing in the last three years. It’s a big number and even more exciting is the diversity of programming led in part by the Research and Education (R&E) Lead Program. With 13 leads working across 10 tumour streams and two cross-cutting cancer themes of primary care and nursing, the framework is producing comprehensive approaches to translatable cancer research. 

Also on the education front, Michelle Barrett, VCCC Head, Education and Training Development, and I recently joined with MTPConnect’s Dr Dan Grant and Caroline Duell in a podcast to talk about our clinical trial internships program, now supported by MTPConnect’s REDI initiative.  

In the week ahead, our webinars will discuss Social Network Analysis with examples from global multinational companies and collaborations among French cancer researchers. Prof Sarah-Jane Dawson from Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre will feature in the next VCCC Breast Cancer Grand Round, Prof Eva Segelov, Director of Oncology, Monash Health will moderate a webinar exploring the challenges and opportunities for metro and regional clinical trial participants as part of our Cancer and COVID series and this afternoon we are hosting a webinar on genomic literacy  

There is a lot to learn; don't hesitate to be involved. 


Professor Grant McArthur
Executive Director