The Financial Impact on Reimbursement of Moderately Hypofractionated Postoperative Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer: An International Consortium Report

G. N. Marta, D. Ramiah, O. Kaidar-Person, A. Kirby, C. Coles, R. Jagsi, T. Hijal, G. Sancho, Y. Zissiadis, J. P. Pignol, A. Y. Ho, S. H.C. Cheng, B. V. Offersen, I. Meattini, P. Poortmans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Aims: Moderately hypofractionated breast irradiation has been evaluated in several prospective studies, resulting in wide acceptance of shorter treatment protocols for postoperative breast irradiation. Reimbursement for radiation therapy varies between private and public systems and between countries, impacting variably financial considerations in the use of hypofractionation. The aim of this study was to evaluate the financial impact of moderately hypofractionated breast irradiation by reimbursement system in different countries. Materials and methods: The study was designed by an international group of radiation oncologists. A web-questionnaire was distributed to representatives from each country. The participants were asked to involve the financial consultant at their institution. Results: Data from 13 countries from all populated continents were collected (Europe: Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, UK; North America: Canada, USA; South America: Brazil; Africa: South Africa; Oceania: Australia; Asia: Israel, Taiwan). Clinicians and/or departments in most of the countries surveyed (77%) receive remuneration based on the number of fractions delivered to the patient. The financial loss per patient estimated resulting from applying moderately hypofractionated breast irradiation instead of conventional fractionation ranged from 5–10% to 30–40%, depending on the healthcare provider. Conclusion: Although a generalised adoption of moderately hypofractionated breast irradiation would allow for a considerable reduction in social and economic burden, the financial loss for the healthcare providers induced by fee-for-service remuneration may be a factor in the slow uptake of these regimens. Therefore, fee-for-service reimbursement may not be preferable for radiation oncology. We propose that an alternative system of remuneration, such as bundled payments based on stage and diagnosis, may provide more value for all stakeholders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)322-330
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Oncology
Volume33
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Breast cancer
  • health economics
  • hypofractionation
  • radiation therapy
  • reimbursement

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