The National Cancer Institute is expanding the functionality of its Patient Outcomes Data Service, a Web-based "Lite" electronic health records system that enables physicians and hospitals to track oncology patient demographics, diagnoses, treatments and outcomes. The system collects data in a common database with access controls to protect providers' proprietary data. Providers with their own EHRs can import data into PODS and run comparative reports against aggregated data.

NCI, Microsoft and SAIC created a prototype that integrates PODS with Microsoft Corp.'s HealthVault personal health records software and Amalga data integration and aggregation software that aids comparative analysis. This enables patients to contribute self-entered medical information as well as tracking such factors as daily pain levels, sleep patterns and mood. Such information can give researchers and clinicians a better understanding of the impact of cancer treatments, particularly among patient sub-types and populations.

"The idea is to figure out how to facilitate the vast amount of information locked in the health care system right now," says Ken Buetow, director of the Center for Biomedical Informatics and Information Technology at the National Cancer Institute.

Less than 5 percent of adult cancer patients presently participate in trials, Buetow says. Making more information accessible also can facilitate greater use of clinical trials, Buetow notes. "With more information in the hands of providers and patients, the whole capability to do research changes."

With the Microsoft-PODS integration, patients can get a Continuity of Care Document imported into their HealthVault PHR, which increases the sharing of data and can help meet meaningful use criteria, Buetow notes.

While the prototype focused on cancer research, there is potential to conduct similar initiatives to further the personalization of treatments for other diseases, according to Microsoft. The National Cancer Institute is looking for additional opportunities to work with vendors and expand the capabilities and functionality of the Patient Outcomes Data Service. For more information, click here.

--Joseph Goedert

 

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