Institute Quality Initiatives

Reducing Time-to-Treatment for Newly Diagnosed Cancer Patients

Median Days to First Treatment by Quarter


An initial diagnosis of cancer is a time when patients are often desperate for answers.¹ Reducing this stress and anxiety by ensuring patients begin treatment as quickly as possible is a Taussig Cancer Institute imperative. Using the Institute's Cancer Tumor Registry and propriety Cancer Data Warehouse, the difference between the date of first positive biopsy and the first day the patient received any cancer-related treatment is measured quarterly for all patients diagnosed with or treated for cancer at Cleveland Clinic's main campus or family health centers.

After median days to first treatment is calculated for all disease groups, the multidisciplinary teams work to increase access and improve efficiency to reduce the time to treatment. These intensive efforts to identify and solve institutional causes for treatment delays have reduced the median time to treatment initiation from 40 days to 28 days.

Percentage of New Patients Taking 45 Days or Greater to Initiate Cancer Treatment


We defined outliers as patients with particularly prolonged time-to-treatment (greater than 45 days) and specifically evaluated the proportion of patients defined as outliers for each disease program to set goals for the reduction of such outliers.¹

DX = Diagnosis

The baseline rates (Quarter 1, 2014) for proportion of outliers across all cancer programs was 30%; there were more outliers among externally versus internally diagnosed patients (47% vs. 21%, respectively). With the approaches outlined above, we were able to surpass our goals in 2016 and have further reduced this proportion to one-half of baseline (currently 14% of all cancers, a 53% reduction).¹