Supported by a $3.8 million grant from the National Cancer Institute, Utah researchers are seeking to address a critical need for a clinical decision support platform that screens for several types of cancer, is electronic health record-agnostic and enables sharing across healthcare organizations.

The University of Utah Health, Intermountain Healthcare and the Huntsman Cancer Institute—all located in Salt Lake City—have joined forces to develop algorithms and interventions that support individualized screening of breast and colorectal cancer by coupling EHR technologies with advanced CDS tools.

According to researchers, the problem with current CDS systems is that they rely on closed architectures, result in minimal sharing of among healthcare organizations, while some EHRs have limited CDS capabilities.

University of Utah Hospital

Also See: CDS tools fall short in meeting physicians’ needs in care delivery

“The goal of the CDS project is to enable a standards-based and scalable CDS platform for individualized cancer screening to be used across healthcare organizations,” said principal investigators Guilherme Del Fiol, MD, and Kensaku Kawamoto, MD, both assistant professors of biomedical informatics at the University of Utah Health.

“To achieve this goal, our team of researchers will extend and solidify two well-established open source CDS web services based on rule logic (OpenCDS) and information retrieval (OpenInfobutton),” they added.

The University of Utah Health will be responsible for developing the CDS platform, workflows and demonstrating it in their care delivery system, while Intermountain will evaluate the solution in its care delivery system to show that the application and workflow are transferable to another organization and EHR.

“With the collaboration between the University of Utah and Intermountain Healthcare, and the support of the National Cancer Institute, we have the potential to produce a CDS platform that has significant impact on individualizing cancer screening according to the best available evidence,” noted grant co-investigator Scott Narus, medical informatics director and chief clinical systems architect for Intermountain Healthcare.

“Our aim is to improve patient care and outcomes through evidence-based medicine,” he said.

According to the researchers, increased scientific evidence supports individualizing cancer screening based on risk to better predict probabilities of cancer development. They will develop CDS algorithms and interventions to support individualized screening of breast and colorectal cancer using two modalities—automatic detection of patients at high risk for breast and colorectal cancer per national cancer guidelines, and individualized evidence for providers and patients to better understand risk-appropriate screening strategies.

“It is crucial that primary care physicians who are the frontline of care identify patients who are at high risk of developing cancer,” added Narus. “Early diagnosis and screening of cancer greatly increases the chances for successful treatment.”

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