publication date: Jan. 15, 2021

Trials & Tribulations

An oncologist’s perspective on measuring success in the clinic


By Steven R. Grossman, MD, PhD

Professor of Medicine,

Cancer physician in chief,

University of Southern California Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center,

Keck Medicine of USC


Even though cancer center and health system leaders know this deep down, most also find no way better to measure the success of programs and providers than the inscrutable Relative Value Unit, or RVU.

However, what does an RVU tell us about the patient experience? Does it tell us if a patient with terminal illness felt cared for and respected? Not in the least. Though there has been much movement afoot to “measure” our success at delivering high quality/high value care—by measurement of patient outcomes, patient satisfaction scores and the like, still, in 2020, despite all the discussion, the average physician contract remains focused on RVU productivity, without regard to patient experience or outcomes.

How should we measure our success? And, indeed, what is a more direct way of incentivizing and rewarding true success as oncologists? How do we measure if we gave a dying patient hope and solace? How do we measure that we provided a calm and therapeutic environment for patients who every day look death in the eye as they receive treatments that may themselves cause as much misery as the cancer?

With these questions in mind, and once we understand what we pay oncologists to do presently, the … Continue reading An oncologist’s perspective on measuring success in the clinic

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