ASCO Begins First Phase of CancerLinQ, the Development of a Prototype of a Breast Cancer-Specific Rapid Learning System

Posted July 17, 2012

ASCO is beginning the development of a breast cancer-specific prototype for CancerLinQ, the society’s multi-phase initiative to develop a rapid learning system in cancer care. The prototype will include innovations that will help transform the way cancer is understood and treated. ASCO has contracted with Sapient, a leader in healthcare technology, to assist with the development of the prototype.

“We know very little about most cancer patients, from their molecular profiles to the outcomes of treatments, because this information is tucked away in millions of medical records all over the world. Fortunately, science and technological advances have brought us to a point where we know gathering and utilizing this information to improve cancer care is achievable,” said Sandra M. Swain, MD, President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. “We are pleased to work with an organization of Sapient’s caliber to develop this prototype, which will be our guidepost in the development of CancerLinQ.”

ASCO’s vision for CancerLinQ is a system that assembles and analyzes millions of unconnected medical records in a central knowledge base, which will grow “smarter” over time. This rapid learning system will harness technological advances to connect oncology practices, measure quality and performance, and provide physicians with decision support in real time.  In June, ASCO announced that it was entering the assessment phase of this initiative, with the first step being the development of the prototype.

CancerLinQ represents the next major step in ASCO’s efforts to improve the quality of cancer care.  The protoype will use ASCO’s breast cancer clinical practice guidelines and measures of its Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI®) as the foundation of its quality measurement and clinical decision tools. ASCO will then input de-identified breast cancer patient records and data imported from the electronic health records (EHRs) of academic centers and oncology practices and begin developing the prototype’s functions. 

The process will allow ASCO to determine and overcome technological barriers to creating a more robust system encompassing all types of cancer, as well as identify requirements around the use of data standards. As a proof of concept, once completed, the prototype will:

  • provide the foundational information and lessons learned to allow ASCO to move into a full-scale implementation;
  • provide real-time, standardized, clinical decision support integration within a demonstration EHR;
  • demonstrate a set of value-added tools; including a physician’s ability to measure their performance against a sub-set of QOPI measures in real-time;
  • demonstrate the ability to capture data from a variety of sources and aggregate the data using novel methodologies;
  • and most importantly, create a demonstration which will allow exploration of data in unprecedented ways and generate hypotheses related to breast cancer.

ASCO plans to unveil the prototype at the society’s inaugural Quality Care Symposium, taking place November 30-December 1, 2012, at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego.

“Sapient’s expertise in health innovation has advanced some of the most critical healthcare and technology projects in the world, including The Cancer Genome Atlas and the National Database for Autism Research,” said Nathan Brewer, Vice President Sapient Government Services. “We are very excited to work with ASCO on the first phase of this groundbreaking endeavor.”

CancerLinQ™ is supported by the Conquer Cancer Foundation of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. CancerLinQ is a project of CancerLinQ, LLC. For more information, please visit:

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