When faced with a complex diagnosis like cancer, information about the treatment plan can empower patients and provide a sense of control at the start of their journey. Clinical pathways are detailed, evidence-based treatment protocols for delivering care to patients with specific disease types. They are an essential component in the quest to reduce variation, improve quality of care, and optimize patient outcomes.
That’s why the Prostate Health Education Network (PHEN), a partner organization of the Amgen Clinical Pathways initiative, recently launched PHENPath.com, a first-of-its-kind tool that supports patients in making informed and shared decisions with their doctors. The initiative brings advocacy groups together to help innovate clinical pathways and advance health equity.
Knowledge Is Power
Consider a 79-year-old patient with Stage IV bone disease and comorbidities who is faced with a treatment decision. His physician has recommended palliative radiation, but his caretaker questions that treatment because the patient does not appear to be in pain. In cancer, clinical pathways can be particularly complex and are informed by a variety of unique factors, including tumor type, stage and molecular profile, which makes it even more important for physicians to give patients the right information. Written materials that depict a “blueprint” of potential treatment plans can help patients and their families gain knowledge and engage effectively in shared decision making with their health care provider.
The new digital tool, which launched at the end of last year, did just that for the family of the 79-year-old patient. They were introduced to PHENpath.com which gave them insight into other treatment options and tips for speaking with their oncologist. The tool, which is anchored in the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Clinical Practice Guidelines, also provides a variety of resources, including a detailed listing of currently enrolling clinical trials for prostate cancer and important information for managing bone health in advanced disease. Armed with that knowledge, the family gained a better understanding of treatment options and were empowered to seek a second opinion.
Collaboration, Diversity and Health Equity
As the first digital tool of its kind from an advocacy organization, PHENPath.com is just one of the unique solutions that sprang out of the Clinical Pathways initiative, launched by Amgen in 2019. The initiative aims to help reduce variation and improve the quality and personalization of cancer care. As part of the initiative, Amgen’s Advocacy Relations brings together diverse advocacy organizations to generate insights and align on key standards and tools to support patient-centric pathways.
“We work as the connective tissue between these diverse organizations – facilitating discussion forums to articulate unmet needs and allow interesting ideas to take shape,” says Linda Murakami, director of Advocacy Relations at Amgen.
Since the initiative’s conception, the advocacy organizations from the Clinical Pathways initiative have embarked on unique projects that encompass distinct drivers of precision medicine: decision support tools, policy engagement, digital care pathways, healthcare system integration, and – of particular interest to Amgen – health equity.
Three organizations in this collaboration represent disenfranchised and underrepresented communities, providing valuable insights on cultural variations that must be considered in treatment decision making. These organizations include PHEN, which seeks to eliminate disparities among African American prostate cancer patients.
PHENPath.com is already making a difference by helping patients reach informed decisions, resulting in improved health equity and better outcomes. In the few months since the tool’s launch, reviews of PHENPath.com have been overwhelmingly positive, with both patients and caregivers appreciating its ease of use and effectiveness in helping them speak confidently with their oncologists.
The collaborative nature of the Clinical Pathways initiative helped bring this patient-centric tool to life. In turn, the initiative’s exchanges have enabled Amgen to listen carefully to patients and provide even more service to the cancer community.