Because breast cancer is a major public health issue, it is particularly important to measure the quality of the care provided to patients. Survival rates are affected by the timeliness of care, and waiting times constitute key quality criteria. The aim of this study was to develop and validate a set of quality indicators (QIs) relative to the timeliness and organisation of care in new patients with infiltrating, non-inflammatory and metastasis-free breast cancer undergoing surgery. The ultimate aim was to use these QIs to compare hospitals.
The method of QI construction and testing was developed by COMPAQ-HPST. We first derived a set of 8 QIs from consensus guidelines with the aid of experts and professional associations and then tested their metrological properties in a panel of 60 volunteer hospitals. We assessed feasibility using a grid exploring 5 dimensions, discriminatory power using the Gini coefficient as a measure of dispersion, and inter-observer reliability using the Kappa coefficient.
Overall, 3728 records were included in the analyses. All 8 QIs showed acceptable feasibility (but one QI was subject to misinterpretation), fairly strong agreement between observers (Kappa = 0.66), and wide variations in implementation among hospitals (Gini coefficient < 0.45 except for QI 6 (patient information)). They are thus suitable for use to compare hospitals and measure quality improvement.
Of the 8 QIs, 3 are ready for nationwide implementation (time to surgery, time to postoperative multidisciplinary team meeting (MDTM), conformity of MDTM). Four are suitable for use only in hospitals offering surgery with on-site postoperative treatment (waiting time to first appointment after surgery, patient information, time to first postoperative treatment, and traceability of information relating to prognosis). Currently, in the French healthcare system, a patient receives cancer care from different institutions whose databases cannot as yet be easily merged. Nationwide implementation of QIs covering the entire care pathway will thus be a challenge.