The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is using the power of “big data” to help improve cancer care. ASCO compiles data from millions of patients around the U.S. and has completed the prototype for CancerLinQ. CancerLinQ is a “learning health system” that collects anonymous patient information in order to provide guidance for physicians.
One of the problems that CancerLinQ addresses is that very little is known from a person’s experience with cancer since the data is locked on unconnected servers and papers. Since privacy is concern, CancerLinQ has gone through extensive legal analysis.
The CancerLinQ prototype currently focuses on breast cancer and it has “de-identified” data from 100,000 patients. The identifying information of the patient has been removed through a third party before becoming available for search. Physicians collect the data as part of the treatment and the data used in the system is not typically something that patients need to consent to.
The data included in the prototype includes factors that can help improve a physician’s quality of practice such as prescribing the appropriate medicine and focusing on survivorship. ASCO is working on making sure that the database complies with HIPAA regulations. Real-time data is collected from electronic health records including lab tests and doctor notes. CancerLinQ can also pinpoint a patient’s characteristics, treatments, and outcomes.
Another example of how big data is being used by healthcare professionals is the way that IBM Watson is being used by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center to help patients through the use of data computing. When a doctor feeds a patient’s medical record containing results from biopsy and CT scan, the computer will recommend a tentative list of treatments based on data grabbed from tens of thousands of medical journals, hospital best practices, and industry association guidelines. Watson also provides a list of clinical trials that the patient may be eligible for.
If you want to learn more about CancerLinQ, below is a presentation by ASCO CEO Allen Lichter MD about CancerLinQ at the 2012 Quality Care Symposium