ASCO Announces Partner for Groundbreaking CancerLinQ Platform

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A major technical partner is announced for the long-awaited HIT initiative that will give oncologists a data-derived "second opinion" right from their desktops, with the earliest versions scheduled to come online this year.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) today announced it has tapped the SAP HANA platform to develop CancerLinQ, the revolutionary health information technology (HIT) project in which physicians are banding together to improve cancer care delivery.

“In teaming with SAP, we found an ideal company with state-of-the-art technology, a commitment to invest major new resources, and a clear dedication to our patient care mission,” ASCO President Peter Paul Yu, MD, FACP, FASCO, said in a statement released today. “With our cancer expertise complemented by SAP’s software and technical insights, CancerLinQ is in a position to make a huge leap toward becoming the platform of choice for oncologists.”

CancerLinQ is an effort to transform the cancer care decision-making process by securely gathering real-world data on cancer patients in one place, giving clinicians immediate, high-quality feedback and support for decision-making. When CancerLinQ in up and running, clinicians in the field will be able to get personalized feedback on patients based on the most up-to-date findings, the type of information that was previously unavailable in many settings.

In a previous interview with The American Journal of Managed Care, Dr Yu described how CancerLinQ would eventually collect data across hundreds of providers and thousands of patients, and thus help avoid the bias that can be present in small sample sizes.


“CancerLinQ will allow us to amass this data, aggregate it and analyze it, and then learn from that,” he explained. “If that is then married to clinical decision support, so that information is returned to the doctor at the point of care, it will allow the physician to more rapidly consider choices and make better treatment decisions.”

The idea is to give both doctor and patient a data-driven “second opinion,” but one derived not from perhaps several dozen similar cases a single physician may have seen, but thousands of cases that hundreds of physicians have seen.

SAP HANA has a track record around the world for helping clinicians use technology to improve cancer diagnosis and treatment through flexible, multi-purpose in-memory data management and applications. Its advanced capabilities include predictive text analytics, spatial processing and data virtualization on the same architecture. Among the users of SAP HANA is the National Center for Tumor Diseases in Heidelberg, Germany, which uses real-time data analytics to help accelerate cancer research and improve clinical trial matching. In Japan, SAP has teamed with Mitsui Knowledge Industry in Japan, trimming the time for an individual patient’s genomic analysis for cancer diagnosis from 30 days to 20 minutes.

CancerLinQ has been in development for some time, across the tenure of several ASCO presidents. During a March 2013 demonstration in Washington, DC, then ASCO President-elect Cliff Hudis, MD, showed how an oncologist would someday be able to analyze the electronic medical records of millions of cancer patients, find those with characteristics similar to his own patient and determine how others fared with therapy options, using nothing more than a simple desktop computer. Such a scenario seemed far off at the time, but now it’s quite close, as the earliest versions of CancerLinQ will be ready in late 2015.

Eight oncology practices in the United States have signed agreements to provide patient records for the first version of CancerLinQ, and 7 more will soon join, which means 500,000 patient records will populate the first version of the program. Practices providing data represent both major cancer centers and community practices, ensuring an array of data.

While SAP will provide access to customized technologies, CancerLinQ will drive development of the platform with input from physicians, patients and experts in related disciplines such as quality improvement, epidemiology, and HIT.

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