Deakin University

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Simulating the healthcare workforce impact and capacity for pancreatic cancer care in Victoria: a model-based analysis

Background: The incidence of pancreatic cancer is rising. With improvements in knowledge for screening and early detection, earlier detection of pancreatic cancer will continue to be more common. To support workforce planning, our aim is to perform a model-based analysis that simulates the potential impact on the healthcare workforce, assuming an earlier diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Methods: We developed a simulation model to estimate the demand (i.e. new cases of pancreatic cancer) and supply (i.e. the healthcare workforce including general surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pain medicine physicians, and palliative care physicians) between 2023 and 2027 in Victoria, Australia. The model compares the current scenario to one in which pancreatic cancer is diagnosed at an earlier stage. The incidence of pancreatic cancer in Victoria, five-year survival rates, and Victoria’s population size were obtained from Victorian Cancer Registry, Cancer Council NSW, and Australian Bureau of Statistics respectively. The healthcare workforce data were sourced from the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care’s Health Workforce Data. The model was constructed at the remoteness level. We analysed the new cases and the number of healthcare workforce by profession together to assess the impact on the healthcare workforce. Results: In the status quo, over the next five years, there will be 198 to 220 stages I-II, 297 to 330 stage III, and 495 to 550 stage IV pancreatic cancer cases diagnosed annually, respectively. Assuming 20–70% of the shift towards pancreatic cancer’s earlier diagnosis (shifting from stage IV to stages I-II pancreatic cancer within one year), the stages I-II cases could increase to 351 to 390 or 598 to 665 per year. The shift to early diagnosis led to substantial survival gains, translating into an additional 284 or 795 out of 5246 patients with pancreatic cancer remaining alive up to year 5 post-diagnosis. Workforce supply decreases significantly by the remoteness levels, and remote areas face a shortage of key medical professionals registered in delivering pancreatic cancer care, suggesting travel necessities by patients or clinicians. Conclusion: Improving the early detection and diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is expected to bring significant survival benefits, although there are workforce distribution imbalances in Victoria that may affect the ability to achieve the anticipated survival gain.



BMC Health Services Research



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