CancerLinQ LLC, recently announced that it has completed agreements with 36 vanguard oncology practices from around the country to begin implementing the tool. According to physicians at the vanguard practices, gaining access to the experience of oncology practices across the country motivated early participation in CancerLinQ™, ASCO’s groundbreaking health information technology platform that will harness big data analytics to help oncologists rapidly improve high-quality care to patients with cancer.
Marin Cancer Care
Peter Eisenberg, MD, FASCO
“If I can benefit from best practices around the country, it will directly benefit my patients,” said Peter Eisenberg, MD, FASCO, of Marin Cancer Care, one of the first vanguard practices to upload its patient records data to CancerLinQ. “What I have to learn by participating is whether we are doing it right and taking care of our patients appropriately. Are we using standard regimens? Are our patients doing as well as we might expect? Are we missing something?”
Dr. Eisenberg noted that randomized clinical trials include a relatively small number of patients, have very specific inclusion and exclusion criteria, and “may or may not reflect the patients we see in our practice.” With CancerLinQ, his practice will be able to track, for example, the thousands of patients with lung cancer who are treated in a year and understand the trajectory of their care.
Uploading data to CancerLinQ from Marin Cancer Care’s electronic medical records (EMR) system was challenging and took time, “but the potential for learning far outweighs the expenditures that we have made,” Dr. Eisenberg said.
Now that his practice has worked through the technical challenges with the help of the ASCO CancerLinQ team, Dr. Eisenberg and his partners will soon be taking a look at the rich data from their own practice. They anticipate that later this year they will be able to compare their data with practices across the country. “If somebody is getting better results in Kansas City or elsewhere, I want to know what they are doing,” he said. “I think it was very bold of ASCO leadership to put such an effort together. It is a huge project but one that has terrific implications for the care of our patients. I applaud the team that has spearheaded this effort.”
Montgomery Cancer Center
Keith Thompson, MD
Keith Thompson, MD, of Montgomery Cancer Center, said that having access to the “combined wisdom of [records from] so many patients treated in centers all over the country will be a tremendous advance in our understanding of cancer and cancer care. The opportunity to understand what is happening with so many patients is a big deal.”
CancerLinQ, he said, will give physicians the ability to “measure their quality and look at what they are doing. Physicians around the country embrace the idea of being able to look themselves in the mirror and see whether they are doing a good job and whether there are things they can do better.”
A team from CancerLinQ was instrumental in helping Montgomery Cancer Center upload its data. “They came in and analyzed the way we interact with our own EMR, asked questions about how data are stored, and then analyzed our data before drawing it into the system.” That process, he said, took several months and a lot of hard work, “but they made it easy for us.”
Dr. Thompson’s center has recently started looking at a subset of the data—“taking it for a test drive,” as he put it—to understand how this information can be used to improve patient care.
Michiana Hematology Oncology, PC
Robin Zon, MD, FACP, FASCO
Robin Zon, MD, FACP, FASCO, of Michiana Hematology Oncology, PC, said her practice “couldn’t say ‘yes’ fast enough” when given the opportunity to be among the first participants in CancerLinQ.
“The whole concept of using big data to better enhance our overall learning has been long in the making. This is a fabulous initiative that ASCO is doing, with the goal of improving quality and patient care.”
Michiana Hematology holds about 120 tumor boards each year. “There is something to be said about experience, which is above and beyond what you would get from a guideline,” Dr. Zon said. “We would often say that it would be great if we could share our collective wisdom. We have all this experience in these file cabinets and now in EMRs.” With CancerLinQ, that depth of experience can now be shared with other practices across the country, she said.
Dr. Zon, a member of ASCO’s Data Governance Oversight Committee, said that she and her colleagues rely on ASCO as a trusted and honest broker. ASCO is “our go-to in terms of education, understanding new information, new interventions, and new technology. It makes sense that ASCO’s CancerLinQ would be our go-to for rapid learning to enhance patient care,” concluded Dr. Zon. ■
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