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Development and Implementation of Multidisciplinary Liver Tumor Boards in the Veterans Affairs Health Care System: A 10-Year Experience


In this perspective piece, we summarize the development and implementation of multidisciplinary liver tumor boards across the Veterans Affairs health care system dating back to 2010. Referral to multidisciplinary tumor boards (MDLTB) has been demonstrated to decrease the number of unnecessary invasive procedures, reduce health care costs and maximize patient outcomes. Although the VA is the largest single care provider in the US, there is significant heterogeneity in healthcare delivery. We have shown that receiving care at VA centers with MDLTB is associated with higher odds of receiving active therapy and a 13% reduction in mortality. Access to expert hepatology care appears to be one of the critical benefits of MDLTB resulting in 30% reduction in mortality. Integrated health care systems such as the VA have the unique capability of implementing virtual tumor boards that can easily overcome geographic barriers and standardize care across multiple facilities regardless of their access to hepatology or other disciplines. Significant barriers remain requiring implementation plans. This document serves as a roadmap to establish multidisciplinary tumor boards, including standardization of imaging reports, identifying stake holders who need to be present at tumor board, institution buy-in, and specifics for local, regional and integrated service network tumor boards.

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