New platform aids data sharing among cancer specialists

CancerLinQ is easing collaboration for clinicians and researchers working in settings ranging from Intermountain Healthcare to small physician offices.

An initiative of the American Society of Clinical Oncology to collect cancer data and distribute it to oncologists and conduct analyses is starting to take off.

Called CancerLinQ, the program pulls data from electronic health records and medical devices, and enables clinicians to share the data via an interoperability platform.

Publicly announced this past January, the program now has 68 early adopter oncology practices participating, ranging from small physician offices to large delivery systems, including Intermountain Healthcare and Catholic Health Initiatives, says Rich Ross, chief solutions officer at CancerLinQ.

In all, about 1,700 oncologists now have access to data, which also can be accessed by authorized quality, risk and practice management professionals.

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Overall, enthusiasm for CancerLinQ has been higher than anticipated, as has the level of collaboration even in the early stages, according to Ross. The expectation was that many oncologists, like other physicians, will struggle to adopt new policies and procedures to comply with the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act and other regulatory initiatives, but they’re also turning their attention to CancerLinQ, he adds.

Data at this stage primarily comes from 12 electronic health record systems and some proprietary data sources. CancerLinQ is working with software vendor Jitterbit Health, which enables extraction of data from source systems and moves the data onto the interoperability platform that went live in May.

Analyzing data has been challenging as oncologists have to learn different ways to look at the data, rather than viewing data insights via regular EHR reporting modules, Ross notes. “We bring in raw data and look through the lenses of quality measures from the American Society of Clinical Oncology. We take measures and convert them to e-measures, then apply data to measures and see how a physician or practice is scoring on quality measures.”

Physicians can look at quality indicators retrospectively and prospectively with nightly refreshes of data. For instance, a physician can query the analytics platform to determine if certain types of patients are receiving care in accordance with best practices, such as certain procedures being done during the first 90 days after a cancer diagnosis.

For instance, if a patient was diagnosed in September and now it is October, a doctor can see if the patient has started chemotherapy, Ross explains. It could be the patient did not come in for a scheduled appointment, or the appointment wasn’t scheduled, or another reason prevented an appointment from being held.

“CancerLinQ is a rapid-learning system enabling users and physicians to look at the information coming in, assess it, and act on it,” Ross says.

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