Illumination and Innovation: Transforming Data Into Learning


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We anticipate that [CancerLinQ] will provide insights for the design of new models of cancer care delivery that are sustainable and that address societal objectives, provide supportive mechanisms to sustain a thriving community practice base, and allow the voice of the physician to be resonant.

—Peter Paul Yu, MD, FACP, FASCO

"Illumination” is a provocative word, evoking as it does the banishment of the darkness of ignorance by the light of new knowledge. Today, we are benefiting from a steady stream of new knowledge about the molecular basis of cancer and the interaction between host and tumor immunology. The concept of patient-centered care is illuminating how we view the role of patients in shared decision-making, the definition of quality of care, and the professional responsibility of physicians.

At the same time, the challenge of delivering cancer care that incorporates these advances in thinking, both in the United States and globally, are significant societal hurdles. Innovation—the creative use of illumination to transform how we improve the lives of patients with cancer in a sustainable and scalable manner—is the necessary companion to illumination.

Rapid Learning Health Systems

As physician-scientists, we are accustomed to using data to generate and test new models. Propitiously, the arrival of digital health has provided an invaluable source of new data from which to generate knowledge and learning. The blending of big health data and medical informatics now gives us a tool with which to accelerate learning, a concept described as “Rapid Learning Health Systems.” These data sets are derived from real-world patient experiences, and consequently, the data they contain reflect how patients with cancer are treated in the daily practice of medicine, the benefit and harm patients experience, the efficiency of care delivery, and most interestingly, the variation in all of this.

If we are able to match these data sets with data on patient outcomes and consumption of medical resources, we will be positioned to contribute new knowledge to the health-care reform discussion. CancerLinQ™ is ASCO’s version of a Rapid Learning Health System applied to oncology. We anticipate that it will provide insights for the design of new models of cancer care delivery that are sustainable and that address societal objectives, provide supportive mechanisms to sustain a thriving community practice base, and allow the voice of the physician to be resonant. By sharing our data, we all receive in return something that is greater than the sum of the parts.

Presidential Theme

My Presidential theme for ASCO’s 51st year is Illumination and Innovation: Transforming Data Into Learning. With the transformation of data into knowledge and thence from knowledge to learning lies an unprecedented opportunity to move our health-care delivery and research systems forward. It begins with a willingness to share our data and involves analysis of that data in ways that will seem foreign and new, along with agile thinking to accept the knowledge and apply it. The most difficult part will be the recognition that the authority of conventions is often derived more from the comfort of habit than from reason.

Illumination and innovation are how the most adaptable will survive in a changing environment. As oncologists, we have always been and always will be at the forefront of creativity and disruptive change; it is the nature of who we are, and why we endeavor in this most difficult of medical specialties to illuminate the path forward. ■

Selected portions reprinted from ASCO Connection. © American Society of Clinical Oncology. “Illumination and Innovation: Transforming Data into Learning.” connection.asco.org. June 2, 2014. All rights reserved.

 

Dr. Yu is the 2014-2015 President of ASCO. He is a medical oncologist and hematologist, Director of Cancer Research at Palo Alto Medical Foundation, and a member of the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology and the Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG). He is also the Chair of ASCO’s Research, Policy & Practice Subcommittee, an ASCO Liaison to the College of American Pathologists Cancer Biomarker Reporting Committee, and Past Chair of the ASCO HIT Working Group.

 



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