The Promise of Interoperability: The CancerLinQ Project

In the first article of our three-part series on interoperability, we introduced its pros and cons and pondered it as industry friend or foe. In our second piece, we addressed how in an ideal world, interoperability might work.

In the final article of our three-part series, we reveal that in spite of many perceived industry challenges to achieve full interoperability, it does and can work -- that is if it is done right.

As today’s medical records become increasingly digitized, and the volume of clinical research grows, the speed and ease with which health care providers can access and apply health information can determine the patient quality of care. Yet, when physicians and patients can securely and easily share data, it can lead to better coordinated and more efficient care. It also can help patients and physicians make better informed treatment decisions by providing faster access to the latest information, alerting physicians to key changes in a patient’s medical history, and making it easier for different members of a patient’s medical team to work together. (source: http://cancerlinq.org/sites/cancerlinq.org/files/Interoperability_Fact_Sheet.pdf

In 2012, the American Society of Clinical Oncology launched the CancerLinQ™ initiative, a health information technology (HIT) platform aimed at enhancing and improving the understanding and treatment of cancer.

It is a powerful database made up of growing amounts of usable, searchable, real-world cancer information. Participants will be able to see trends in care by analyzing cancer patient medical records, uncovering patterns that can improve patient care, and compare their care against that of their peers and recommended guidelines. 

Unique in its approach, it gives the nation’s oncologists a quality monitoring system to collect and analyze data from all patient encounters and to share information from that data. An integrated interoperability platform makes the project work. The platform analyzes millions of medical records, uncovers patterns and trends, measures care against peers and recommended guidelines, and creates silos of data for the use in cancer care treatment. Its integrated technology platform securely accesses, compiles, and codes medical data through a secure, privacy-oriented network, streamlining the disparate information into one universal language. 

Participating oncology practices can instantly share a full range of patient health information (unless a patient opts out), regardless of the type of medical records system the practice uses, making it easier for practices to participate.

As an example of interoperability that works, participating physicians use this information to provide patients with instant context around different treatment options, and to track their performance and quality of treatment compared to thousands of other oncology clinics.

“The project helps to harness Big Data to improve cancer treatment by connecting vast amounts of patient health information from a wide range of EHR systems in CancerLinQ,” said Rich Ross, chief solutions officer for CancerLinQ LLC. “It’s proven success in connecting even the most complex cloud-based applications enables us to offer a platform that can be implemented quickly with minimal technical effort by resources at member practices.”

As of June, 2016, ASCO announced a total of 58 practices in 39 states and the District of Columbia that have joined CancerLinQ™.


About the author: One of the nation’s top healthcare data executives and seasoned change agent, Mr. Kateian is the general manager of Jitterbit Health, the interoperability platform that runs CancerLinQ.