The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and its nonprofit subsidiary, CancerLinQ LLC, The MITRE Corporation, and the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology Foundationhave announced collaboration to advance cancer data sharing and to improve patient care.

The collaboration will work towards the development of the minimal common oncology data elements (mCODE).

The mCODE initiative has released the first set of common cancer data standards and technical specifications, as part of the ASCO’s 2019 annual meeting in Chicago.

Data from more than 15 million cancer patients in the US is contained in electronic health records (EHRs) of different types. Most of the EHR systems that are currently in use prioritise the collection of different types of data, use multiple terms to describe the similar kind of data, or collect data in different formats, thereby making them incompatible with each other.

ASCO president Monica M. Bertagnolli said: “Progress and quality care for patients with cancer can hinge on our ability to seamlessly share patient data among doctors, hospitals, and researchers. But data sharing is much more difficult, if not impossible, when EHR systems contain incompatible information.

“With mCODE, we’re bringing the oncology community together around common data standards that will bring us one step closer to our goal of learning from every patient with cancer.”

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The mCODE elements, which are available at free of cost, are designed using standard medical terminologies, which means that a physician’s clinical query across different EHRs using mCODE technology should convey the same meaning and retrieve same kind of patient details.

MITRE’s chief technology officer Jay J Schnitzer said: “Publishing mCODE is an important step towards realizing incredible insights into treatment that the 97% of cancer patients not participating in clinical trials could generate.”

mCODE is currently being examined at cancer centres across the US, including Partners Healthcare in Boston and Intermountain Healthcare headquartered in Salt Lake City.

In the next few months, the results of the studies being conducted at these centres will be used to refine mCODE as it is deployed in a broader spectrum.