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Effect of patient choice and hospital competition on service configuration and technology adoption within cancer surgery: a national, population-based study

Aggarwal, Ajay, Lewis, Daniel, Mason, Malcolm, Purushotham, Arnie, Sullivan, Richard and van der Meulen, Jan 2017. Effect of patient choice and hospital competition on service configuration and technology adoption within cancer surgery: a national, population-based study. The Lancet Oncology 18 (11) , pp. 1445-1453. 10.1016/S1470-2045(17)30572-7

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Background There is a scarcity of evidence about the role of patient choice and hospital competition policies on surgical cancer services. Previous evidence has shown that patients are prepared to bypass their nearest cancer centre to receive surgery at more distant centres that better meet their needs. In this national, population-based study we investigated the effect of patient mobility and hospital competition on service configuration and technology adoption in the National Health Service (NHS) in England, using prostate cancer surgery as a model. Methods We mapped all patients in England who underwent radical prostatectomy between Jan 1, 2010, and Dec 31, 2014, according to place of residence and treatment location. For each radical prostatectomy centre we analysed the effect of hospital competition (measured by use of a spatial competition index [SCI], with a score of 0 indicating weakest competition and 1 indicating strongest competition) and the effect of being an established robotic radical prostatectomy centre at the start of 2010 on net gains or losses of patients (difference between number of patients treated in a centre and number expected based on their residence), and the likelihood of closing their radical prostatectomy service. Findings Between Jan 1, 2010, and Dec 31, 2014, 19 256 patients underwent radical prostatectomy at an NHS provider in England. Of the 65 radical prostatectomy centres open at the start of the study period, 23 (35%) had a statistically significant net gain of patients during 2010–14. Ten (40%) of these 23 were established robotic centres. 37 (57%) of the 65 centres had a significant net loss of patients, of which two (5%) were established robotic centres and ten (27%) closed their radical prostatectomy service during the study period. Radical prostatectomy centres that closed were more likely to be located in areas with stronger competition (highest SCI quartile [0·87–0·92]; p=0·0081) than in areas with weaker competition. No robotic surgery centre closed irrespective of the size of net losses of patients. The number of centres performing robotic surgery increased from 12 (18%) of the 65 centres at the beginning of 2010 to 39 (71%) of 55 centres open at the end of 2014. Interpretation Competitive factors, in addition to policies advocating centralisation and the requirement to do minimum numbers of surgical procedures, have contributed to large-scale investment in equipment for robotic surgery without evidence of superior outcomes and contributed to the closure of cancer surgery units. If quality performance and outcome indicators are not available to guide patient choice, these policies could threaten health services’ ability to deliver equitable and affordable cancer care.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Additional Information: This is an Open Access article under the CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license.
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 1470-2045
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 29 January 2018
Date of Acceptance: 3 October 2017
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2019 13:06

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