Cancer-Specific Data Sharing Standards for Communication, Collaboration, and Coordination of Care

ASCO's Efforts in Developing Cancer-Specific Standards

In 2012, ASCO initiated work to develop cancer-specific standards that will allow practices to electronically share information. The goal of this effort is to improve the quality and coordination of care in oncology. The Health Information Technology Work Group (Health IT WG) is developing the standards, known as interoperability standards, through Health Level Seven® International (HL7). HL7 is the leading ANSI-accredited, standards-developing organization focused exclusively on healthcare.

These oncology interoperability standards will allow providers and patients to share electronic clinical cancer information even when they do not share the same EHR application or vendor.

Improving Patient Care Through Shared Information

Use of the interoperability standards will improve care for patients with cancer by providing more complete, timely, and accurate information to oncologists, specialists, primary care providers, and patients. The data will also provide data for secondary uses, such as CancerLinQ, eQOPI, cancer registries, and research.

Data Standards and Interoperability Task Force

The Health IT WG formed the Data Standards & Interoperability Task Force (DSIT) to lead ASCO’s interoperability initiatives. The DSIT has a Chair, who is tasked with providing consistency across projects. For help on each project, DSIT invites a small group of volunteers who have expertise in informatics and other subjects relevant to the project’s focus. A leading consulting firm was engaged to perform the technical work.

The Health IT WG turned to ASCO’s suite of Treatment Plan and Summary templates as the basis for the initial interoperability standards. The templates were chosen for the following reasons:

  • Their rigorous content, developed by subject matter experts.
  • The benefit they provide in increasing communication among the care team.

Three Iterations of ASCO’s Interoperability Standards

First Iteration Focuses on Adjuvant Breast Cancer Care

The Health IT WG selected ASCO’s original Breast Cancer Adjuvant Treatment Plan and Summary (BCTPS) for the first iteration of their interoperability standards. The volunteers and staff worked with consultants over several months to define and clarify each element in the BCTPS. This collaboration ensured adherence to the content and intent of the BCTPS and accurate representation in the electronic standard. This first iteration of the Clinical Oncology Treatment Plan and Summary (COTPS) Implementation Guide was published by HL7 in 2013.

Second Iteration Expands Scope to include Colon Cancer Care

ASCO’s second iteration of interoperability standards expanded on the initial work by adding data represented in the original Colon Cancer Adjuvant Treatment Plan and Summary (CCTPS). This second iteration was published by HL7 in 2015. Both the breast cancer and colon cancer versions of the COTPS are available free of charge for download and use. The COTPS eliminates the need for time-consuming manual extraction of treatment plan and summary data onto a paper form.

Third Iteration to Add Survivorship Care Plan to the COTPS in 2015

In 2015, the Data Standards & Interoperability Task Force (DSIT) initiated the third project to expand the COTPS with data represented in ASCO’s generic Survivorship Care Plan (SCP). (the SCP was published in October 2014; read the press release describing ASCO’s Template for SCP). DSIT prioritized the SCP for the following reasons: 

  • The need for doctors to provide details of treatment, follow-up care recommendations, and educational information to patients
  • The Commission on Cancer’s requirement that all accredited facilities provide SCP’s to a higher percentage of survivors over the next few years

This project was submitted to HL7 for ballot in November, 2015, and is expected to publish as the third iteration in early-fall 2016.

We hope this new standard will improve the timeliness and accuracy of communication, and increase collaboration between providers and patients with cancer.

For more information on the design and development of the SCP, and for updates, please refer to this Journal of Oncology Practice (JOP) manuscript. For more information on the design, development, and initial implementation of the COTPS in an integrated delivery network, please refer to this Journal of American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA) manuscript.

Interoperability Standards Summits

ASCO’s Health IT Working Group and Data Standards & Interoperability Task Force (DSIT) hosts Interoperability Standards Summit at ASCO HQ.

The fourth Summit is currently being planned for 2017.