Oncology is about to take a huge step toward changing the way that cancer is understood and treated with the development of a breast cancer-specific prototype for a rapid learning system in cancer care. This system takes advantage of health IT advances (such as EHRs) in order to connect oncology practices, measure quality and performance, and provide physicians with decision support in real time.
The prototype is part of the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO’s) vision for CancerLinQ a “system that assembles and analyzes millions of unconnected medical records in a central knowledge base, which will grow ‘smarter’ over time,” according to the organization.
As part of ASCO’s focus on quality improvement, the protoype will use clinical practice guidelines and measures of the Quality Oncology Practice Initiative to build quality measurement and clinical decision tools. Next, breast cancer patient records and data (stripped of identifying information) imported from the electronic health records (EHRs) of academic centers and oncology practices will be added.
As a proof of concept, ASCO says that the prototype will:
- provide the foundational information and lessons learned to allow ASCO to move into a full-scale implementation;
- provide real-time, standardized, clinical decision support integration within a demonstration EHR;
- demonstrate a set of value-added tools; including a physician’s ability to measure their performance against a sub-set of QOPI measures in real-time;
- demonstrate the ability to capture data from a variety of sources and aggregate the data using novel methodologies;
- and create a demonstration which will allow exploration of data in unprecedented ways and generate hypotheses related to breast cancer.
Once the full technology platform is completed, CancerLinQ ultimately is expected to improve personalized treatment decisions by capturing patient information in real time at the point of care; provide decision support to cancer teams to adapt treatment plans to each patient and his or her cancer; and report on quality of care, compared with clinical guidelines and the outcomes of other patients. It’s also hoped that the system will help to “educate and empower patients by linking them to their cancer care teams and providing personalized treatment information at their fingertips.” Lastly, the system stands to be a powerful new data source for analysis of real-world quality and comparative effectiveness, as well as to generate new ideas for clinical research. It’s hoped that in time, this approach can be adapted to all types of cancer.