Cancer, a disease widely known by both medical and non-professionals, is a malignant tumor or growth caused by an abnormal division of cells. Even though cancer’s definition appears to be straightforward, it fails to encompass the many facets of cancer including possible treatments, clinical trials, patient care, and data. In the more recent years, the collection of oncology data has benefitted patient care by allowing individuals to better understand the true nature of the disease.
Now you’re probably wondering “Why is the collection of oncology data important?” Well think of it this way, when you’re figuring out a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle, what do you need in order to fit it all together? The simple answer is all of the pieces, and if you lack even one you will never complete the puzzle. In this case, oncology data represents the individual puzzle pieces, while cancer represents the jigsaw puzzle in its entirety. Despite having an abundance of oncology data at our disposal, the difficult part is determining an efficient means of organizing the fragmented data. Again, you’re probably thinking “What are the benefits to consolidating this data?” Well, let’s say I have 200 pieces of the puzzle but my friend in a different city has 300 pieces. The pieces my friend has can’t be obtained by any other means, so what happens next? Either we collaborate to complete the puzzle or it never gets finished. The fragmented nature of oncology data has prompted companies to develop new, innovative solutions to solve this complex problem.
Flatiron Health, a healthcare tech company located in New York City, may have put an end to this fragmentation. I stumbled upon Flatiron Health shortly after starting an Aria to Epic data conversion project this past summer. As I continued to gain more experience in handling oncology data, I realized I wanted to learn more, so naturally I Googled “oncology data” along with “oncology software.” I started to read articles discussing the latest advancements in both oncology data and oncology research when I came across Flatiron Health. As I perused their website, I couldn’t believe the ways in which they were transforming the delivery of cancer patient care.
Flatiron Health combines technology and data in order to connect cancer centers across the nation on a common cloud-based platform. They call it “software as a drug.” This new “drug” enhances the quality of patient care and increases the probability of positive patient outcomes. Most importantly, it allows physicians and researchers to view every facet of patient care regardless of the data’s complexity. Flatiron’s OncologyCloud™ connects 200+ Cancer clinics and 1700+ clinicians in one seamless platform. OncologyCloud™ is comprised of an analytics tool, billing tool, patient portal, and OncoEMR®, their oncology-specific EHR. OncoEMR® has a flexible structure that allows it to fit into any clinician’s workflow. The state-of-the-art software offers 24/7 access via the internet as well as reduces hardware and upgrade fees. The most intriguing aspect of OncologyCloud™ has to be the integration of a data analytics tool, which will provide physicians with the ability to search for advanced treatment support as well as help create the next generation of patient care.
In May 2015, Varian Medical Systems and Flatiron Health announced their alliance as they plan to develop the next generation of a cloud-based oncology-specific EHR. Varian Medical Systems is a leading manufacturer of radiation oncology treatments, medical devices, and software. The current plan in motion is to build upon their existing software platforms in order to provide “a cloud-based medical oncology, radiation oncology, and data analytics product suite.” Their main objective is to offer software solutions that will highly benefit oncologists’ efforts to deliver exceptional patient care.
Innovative products such as these not only redefine the use of software for cancer care providers, but also encourage fellow engineers and tech companies to think outside the box when developing the next generation of EHRs & medical software. I believe this revolutionary oncology-specific technology is only the beginning, and am excited to see how this inspires other software innovations across the healthcare industry.