Radioligand therapy is an innovative approach to treating various types of cancer that has been shown to significantly improve survival and quality of life. Assessing current integration and readiness for radioligand therapy will help health systems and governments plan for its effective use, and will ultimately ensure that all the people who could benefit from the approach have access to it in a timely manner.
Integration is the adoption and assimilation of a new therapy into every aspect of a health system (i.e. governance, regulation, reimbursement and service delivery frameworks) in order to ensure its availability to all people who may benefit from it.
Readiness is the ability of the health system to rapidly and sustainably adapt policies, processes and infrastructure to support integration of a new therapy.
These two concepts are inextricably linked, as successful integration of radioligand therapy requires that health systems can readily adapt to incorporate new therapies.
Readiness for radioligand therapy may look slightly different in every health context. But regardless of the setting, readiness means that each domain of the health system can be efficiently adapted to include radioligand therapy.
As a highly multidisciplinary, specialised cancer treatment, radioligand therapy is a perfect example of why a rigorous systems approach to assessing and planning integration is required. Successful delivery of radioligand therapy requires interaction between healthcare professionals from different specialties – including nurses, nuclear medicine physicians, radiation oncologists, radio-pharmacists and medical physicists. We need a health system that supports efficient communication and collaborative working between these specialties.
Radioligand therapy uses nuclear material, so it also requires interactions between different sectors. People from the energy and healthcare sectors (among others) must work together to create suitable infrastructure and ensure that radioisotopes with varying half-lives are delivered in a safe way at the appropriate time. To account for the involvement of multiple sectors, policymakers need to look beyond traditional health policy when planning to implement the approach into cancer care.
To see how our vision of readiness for radioligand therapy can be realised in different health systems, please download the Radioligand Therapy Readiness Assessment Framework, a flexible and robust tool which can be used to evaluate current integration and future readiness for the approach. Findings from pilot applications of the framework in the UK and the US will be available in late 2021. We hope that the framework can help generate information to identify what policy actions are required to improve the integration of radioligand therapy into cancer care, both now and in the future.
Please also see our user guide for assistance in using the readiness assessment framework.
Oriana Carswell, Project Officer at The Health Policy Partnership