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5 Health IT Highlights From the NCCN Policy Summit


Experts at a summit convened by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) agreed that progress in health information technology can help break the walls between compartmentalized data that lives within distinct data systems, to improve patient outcomes.

While innovative drugs and diagnostic tests are inundating the cancer treatment space, several barriers prevent patient access—data silos being one. Experts representing providers; payers; and the pharmaceutical, diagnostic, and information technology (IT) industry were convened by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) at a policy summit, held June 27, 2016, in Washington, DC. They agreed that progress in health IT can help break the walls between compartmentalized data that lives within distinct data systems, and improve patient outcomes.

Quality of healthcare and alternate payment models

During the first panel discussion, payers, providers, and developers of technology platforms discussed Readiness to Support Alternative Payment Models and Reporting for Precision Medicine and Quality Care. Improving the quality of care delivered by being better informed through technology platforms was discussed, as was how these platforms are finding a place in new payment models being introduced by CMS and by commercial health plans.

Cancer Moonshot

Gregory C. Simon, executive director, White House Cancer Task Force, also spoke at the NCCN summit, which was held just 2 days before the Cancer Moonshot Summit at Howard University.

Simon emphasized that there is really no limit on what we could do, “It’s about what we want to do. Changing culture is the most powerful thing on the planet. Just like the original moonshot, the Cancer Moonshot is about using technology and the resulting information,” he said. Emphasizing that collaboration is the need of the hour, Simon added, “We need a blending of disciplines,” Simon said. That’s how ideas that tell us that containing cancer, not necessarily curing it, could evolve.

A case study on leveraging health IT

Lincoln Nadauld, MD, PhD, who heads the cancer genomics department at Intermountain Healthcare, presented their health system as a case study for the audience. “Our platform connects the tumor data on a single patient with the tumor board recommendations and is available to the oncologist at a single click. The system also allows outcomes tracking and learning in real time,” which he said has resulted in improved clinical as well as economic outcomes.

Nadauld shared an example of a trial in at one of their hospitals digitally tracked patient activity and found that improved activity resulted in a shorter length of stay. “Population management models will favor cost savings,” Nadauld said.

Creating a learning data system

In the afternoon, the discussion progressed to the role of technology in promoting dissemination of data. Sharing information, the panelists agreed, can help create a learning system that can improve patient outcomes. Voices on the panel included Anthony V. Coletta, MD, MBA, Tandigm Health; Edith Mitchell, MD, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center; Mia A. Levy, MD, PhD, Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center; Allen Roeseler, NantHealth; and Michael Pellini, MD, Foundation Medicine. Transparency, eliminating silos, and making data readily accessible to those who can use it for the best outcomes was Pellini’s takeaway message.

What does the patient gain?

Trust—in their physician and in the healthcare system. “If the patient is treated well, the patient may not necessarily know that health IT is being used,” said Joanne Buzaglo, PhD, of the Cancer Support Community. “What really matters to the patient is the trusting relation with their doctor. [Use of technology platforms] gives them hope that the doctor is not working alone and is making informed choices.” Buzalgo was speaking during the last panel of the day: Issues, Opportunities, and Patient Impact.

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