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ASCO President Dr Daniel F. Hayes Applauds Recommendations for Cancer Moonshot

Surabhi Dangi-Garimella, PhD
The American Journal of Managed Care reached out to Daniel F. Hayes, MD, FASCO, 2016-2017 president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), to understand his perception of how the recommendations of the Cancer Moonshot initiative's Blue Ribbon Panel would impact cancer care in the United States.
Last week, the Blue Ribbon Panel (BRP)—a committee of scientific experts, patient advocates, and representatives from the pharmaceutical industry, appointed to lead the White House’s Cancer Moonshot initiative—released a preliminary report that included important recommendations that can support faster, more precise treatments for patients diagnosed with cancer, with potential for much improved outcomes.

The American Journal of Managed Care reached out to Daniel F. Hayes, MD, FASCO, 2016-2017 president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), to understand his perception of how these recommendations would impact cancer care in the United States. Following is an excerpt from the interview, which can be accessed in the upcoming (October) issue of Evidence-Based Oncology.

AJMC: One of the suggestions of the BRP is to better link databases to assimilate patient information across systems, with the potential for patients being recruited to participate on trials. Since interoperability remains a significant challenge for our healthcare system, do you foresee this as a more long-term recommendation?
 
Hayes: Widespread interoperability for sharing electronic health information is critical for optimal cancer care. It’s incredible that we have a standardized method for streaming TV shows but not for taking care of sick patients. I’m pleased that the panel included this recommendation in the report. Frankly, this is the kind of innovation that we cannot put on the “long-term” track.

The cancer community—the entire medical community, actually—needs to put our full support behind interoperability so that it is achieved more quickly. The American public does not suffer lack of access and interoperability when it comes to other potentially sensitive information (for example, financial information). We should expect no less when it comes to the medical information needed to stay healthy and treat illness, especially a serious diagnosis like cancer. This is the kind of innovation that the Moonshot requires. ASCO is fully supportive of this transformative idea.
 
AJMC: How are individual clinics and smaller practices adopting interoperability?
 
Hayes: There are 2 issues embedded in this question: 1) the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) and 2) interoperability among them. Individual clinics and smaller practices are having a very difficult time, especially with the first. The problem isn’t isolated to just small practices, however. Even large, internationally recognized cancer institutions may be in a situation where they’re using multiple electronic records systems that do not talk across clinics and departments—whether they are across town, in different states, or right next door to one another. This is a major concern in oncology, where we routinely work with patients going to multiple medical providers across the continuum of care, eg, radiation therapy, surgery, chemotherapy, imaging, pathology, etc. Gaining access to medical information and seamlessly integrating and analyzing it for patients across multiple providers takes more effort than it should.
 
Because of this, ASCO has called on Congress to address this issue directly. ASCO issued the following 4 recommendations, which should be part of the Moonshot initiative:
  • Congress should enact legislation as quickly as possible to ensure widespread interoperability is achieved.
  • Congress should pass legislation to remove barriers to interoperability, especially information blocking.
  • Policymakers should ensure that cancer patients, oncologists, and other oncology providers do not bear the costs of achieving interoperable EHRs and of companies refraining from information blocking.
  • Federal officials should work with ASCO and other stakeholders to ensure that healthcare providers have the information necessary to be prudent purchasers and users of health information technology systems.
We are pleased that the BRP included the idea of a National Cancer Data Ecosystem. ASCO is building this with CancerLinQ and working with patient organizations and our colleagues across the medical professions to integrate data.



 
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