A survey commissioned by Gleneagles Global Hospitals and conducted by CubeX – Sorento reveals the pain points faced by cancer patients and caregivers
· Overall, Lung Cancer (17%), Breast Cancer (16%), Oral Cancer (15%) and blood cancer (15%) were the most reported cancers in the study
· More than 64 percent of patients in the West were diagnosed with cancer in the second or later stage
· 70 percent people had to go through multiple level of testing leading to delay in the onset of treatment
· 57 percent patients had to wait for more than 3 months for a confirmed diagnosis
Gleneagles Global Hospitals today released its ‘Painful Wait’ report that aims at highlighting the difficulties faced by cancer patients during their journey from diagnosis to treatment and thereby identify the key ‘Painful Wait’ areas. This is a national level study commissioned by Gleneagles Global Hospitals in collaboration with CubeX Sorento Health.
The main Painful Wait areas that have been identified include initial symptom recognition and diagnosis, access to cancer diagnostic tests, multiple diagnostic tests, time taken from diagnosis to confirmation, poor access to oncologists, initiation of treatment, satisfaction with hospitals and cost of treatment.
In the area of initial symptom recognition, there is a stark contradiction in the perceived ability of family physicians to understand the symptoms. Respondents in the south (97%) said their family physicians were effective in understanding the symptoms. However, respondents in East (71%), West (69%) and North (47%) opined that their family physicians could not gauge the signs of cancer to correctly route them to specialist. Delay in effectively gauging the signs of cancer at the primary care level delays timely diagnosis and treatment. Hence, the ability of the family physician to gauge early signs of cancer and patient awareness is crucial reported the study.
With regard to screening and diagnosis, less than half the respondents (46%) reported that cancer was detected at stage 1; lowest being in the west (39%) and North (20%) were diagnosed at stage IV. While, 70% respondents got confirmation of diagnosis within 3 months, in west and south the value is low. This indicates the need for faster access to specialized tests and the availability of timely tests results and accurate interpretation to initiate treatment.
Multiple diagnostic tests were another area of concern. About 7 out of every 10 respondents had to perform several tests on visiting different oncologists. Every respondent in the south (100%) and 70% from the north had to re-do the tests. Poor access to oncologists is a key concern of diagnosis (49%). Faster access to cancer specialists will avoid repeated/multiple tests and agony of patients, commented the study.
Most respondents stated that their expectations from hospitals included accessibility to cancer specialists, quality & expertise of doctors, counseling services, cleanliness & hygiene and all-under-one-roof availability. In the south, especially Chennai, satisfaction level with most parameters while choosing a hospital are higher than other regions. Patient engagement through counseling and timely access to healthcare facilities are clear need gaps to be fulfilled.
Respondents shared that costly treatment options, re-emergence of cancer, lack of counseling to deal with the emotional stress and access to oncologists were the key areas of concern in their personal experience.
Commenting on the report, Dr. Raja Sundaram, Director – Gleneagles Global Institute of Oncology, Gleneagles Global Health City, Chennai, said, “Painful Wait has given us an indication of the ordeal a cancer patient in India has to go through. The report has shed light on many cracks in the system that affects the proper diagnosis and treatment of cancer in our country. While I am glad that our city according to the report ranks higher on satisfaction while choosing a hospital than the other regions, it is still imperative that we listen to the patients and provide better access to oncologists and counselling to help them deal with emotional stress. I sincerely hope that this study creates awareness and helps the eco-system in India understand the gaps to create a better path to recovery for cancer patients.”
Dr. Jagprag Singh Gujral, Group COO of Gleneagles Global Hospitals said, “This national survey is an attempt by us to understand a cancer patients journey from diagnosis to treatment and a commitment to streamline the hospitals clinical and operational interfaces to reduce unwarranted stress for the patient and his care takers. The findings are an eye opener and by all means revolutionary for all stakeholders in the healthcare delivery space. We are confident that this new holistic approach that we are introducing in cancer patient care in India will revolutionize the way healthcare delivery providers look at a patient’s journey from symptomatic diagnosis to treatment. “
Mr. Ramesh Krishnan, CEO – India Operations Division, Parkway Pantai said, “According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the projected figure for new cancer cases in 2016 was 14.5 lakh and by 2020, the number is expected to rise exponentially to 17 lakhs. These numbers are alarming and require collaborative action at both individual and collective levels to make big strides in the fight to cure cancer. We are making a beginning towards serving the unmet needs of patients by creating a pathway, ensuring better patient experience. Through the findings from the research commissioned by us, we will use it to make necessary changes in the way we practice, both clinically and non clinically. Through such initiatives we need to demonstrate control strategies to spread awareness for early detection of cancer and reduce its devastating impact. We also aim to strengthen our resources and provide the best training to meet this increased patient load and deliver quality healthcare”
The study covers 6 major Indian cities including Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad. A comprehensive sample of 600 cancer patients and survivors were kind enough to be a part of this study. Insights and feedback was collected through in person interactions with cancer survivors between the ages of 20-55 years old.