ASCO Completes Prototype for CancerLinQ™, Marking First Demonstration of a 'Learning Health System' to Transform Cancer Care

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ASCO has completed a prototype of CancerLinQ™, the Society’s groundbreaking health information technology initiative to achieve higher quality, higher value cancer care with better outcomes for patients. The prototype was shown on March 27 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, during an ASCO-hosted panel discussion on big data in cancer care.

With CancerLinQ, ASCO is developing a knowledge-generating computer network that will collect and analyze cancer care data from millions of patient visits, together with expert guidelines and other evidence, to generate real-time, personalized guidance and quality feedback for physicians.

“Today we know very little about the experiences of most people with cancer because their information is locked away in unconnected servers and paper files,” said Sandra M. Swain, MD, President of ASCO. “Only the 3% of patients who participate in clinical trials are able to contribute to advances in treatment. CancerLinQ will transform cancer care by unlocking that wealth of information and enabling every patient to be a cancer knowledge donor.”

Core Functions

ASCO built the CancerLinQ prototype to demonstrate the feasibility of such a system and to provide lessons about the technological and logistical challenges involved in full-scale implementation. The prototype includes “de-identified” (ie, anonymous) data from 100,000 patients with breast cancer who were treated at leading cancer care institutions around the United States. It reflects more than a year of formative work, including consultation with the oncology and IT communities; efforts to improve oncology data standards; and extensive technology and legal analysis.

To build the prototype quickly, ASCO linked together several open-source IT applications. Together, they encompass CancerLinQ’s planned core functions, including:

  • Real-time data collection
  • Clinical decision support
  • Data mining and visualization
  • Quality feedback

The prototype will ultimately include data on more than 133,000 cases from oncology practices across the country, far exceeding initial expectations and lending further strength to the lessons that can be drawn from the prototype. ASCO plans to publish its lessons learned over the coming year, and will use them to inform its development of the full CancerLinQ system.

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© 2013. American Society of Clinical Oncology. All rights reserved.