Cancer Research Has a Data Crisis: Let’s Face It and Fix It
By Carla Balch, CEO, Transmed Systems.
Cancer research appears to be at an inflection point as we swing toward immunotherapy. It’s a time of great promise for patients, physicians and researchers, but also of great frustration. Too often patients are unable to access treatment options that could save their lives.
In the United States, more than 600,000 people are expected to die of cancer this year, according to the National Cancer Institute. At the current rate, a third of people diagnosed with cancer today will die within five years driving a deep sense of urgency for those in the clinical trials field.
Breakthroughs in biotech and personalized medicine could change these dire statistics, but it can’t happen soon enough for the 1.7 million Americans who will be diagnosed with cancer this year, and the millions more already living with it.
Data has the potential to make cancer research and treatment far more effective and efficient. That’s why institutions across the spectrum – from public hospitals to private practices and research facilities – have become far more sophisticated in collecting data.
The next great healthcare challenge
But making the structural changes needed to put this data to work is another matter. Our next great challenge as a healthcare community is how to deploy all of this information to improve clinical care, and how to get organizations big and small to communicate in a way that opens the full spectrum of treatment options to all patients.
This means connecting pharmaceutical companies and research organizations to the physicians and facilities that are treating patients. Right now, these two worlds exist in separate spheres – they each maintain massive data silos that have no way of continuously communicating with each other.
Researchers are left to rely on a few trusted providers – mainly major research hospitals – for their trials, and it leaves physicians elsewhere struggling to find treatment options when the list of more traditional options has been exhausted. It leaves millions of patients missing out on opportunities to access potentially life-saving care.
We have the technology to bridge this divide – it’s now a question of committing to creating a shared and always HIPAA-compliant database that allows researchers to expand and enhance their search for the right patients on one side, and allows physicians to see a global picture of current trials on the other.