When Karen Schmidt’s doctor revealed to her that she had cancer, she immediately wanted to know what would happen next.
Coincidentally, as a certified tumor registrar (CTR), Karen is familiar with what many cancer patients go through. It had been her job to capture their complete clinical histories–from diagnosis and treatment to follow-up care and monitoring–to perform the accreditation and state-level data submission required of hospitals.
“Upon diagnosis, I right away wanted to know what my survival expectations would be,” Karen recalls. “At that moment, it hit me that the data I had been responsible for as a CTR, which I knew had been used to improve cancer treatments—and ultimately survival rates—would suddenly become relevant to my personal cancer story.”
In her current role as Vice President of Oncology at Q-Centrix, Karen leads the Oncology division’s strategic direction and consults hospitals and health systems on achieving Commission on Cancer (CoC) accreditation. In a previous role, she led efforts to develop the insight2oncology® (i2o®) analytics software at CHAMPS Oncology before the company became part of Q-Centrix in April 2021.
At Q-Centrix, her experience and expertise have been instrumental in developing a new solution: The Q-Centrix Oncology Platform, the first and only comprehensive oncology data solution in the market.
A year in the making, the new Oncology Platform’s primary purpose is to streamline the process of capturing and reporting clinical Oncology data while empowering Oncology leadership to unlock that data’s value.
While leading the new platform’s development, Q-Centrix Product Manager Kelli Gilliand acknowledged that this project was unlike any others Q-Centrix had attempted before. Due to clinical Oncology data’s utter complexity, she made sure the team understood the approach would be just as important as the end-product. With 15 years of experience in clinical data management, she was the primary advocate for ensuring clinical experience would be the guiding beacon for the process. To do this, she tapped into one of the most proficient resources available: The Q-Centrix expert team.
“We realized early in the process that developing a platform that could ensure hospitals get the most from their clinical Oncology data would demand a holistic approach,” Kelli explains. “One of our greatest advantages to do so was the 150 active CTRs on the Q-Centrix team—many with at least 20 years of experience abstracting Oncology data—to tap as subject matter experts. Not only do they have first-hand experience working with numerous medical record systems, but also the various tools CTRs commonly use to document a cancer patients’ journey.”
Leveraging this collective clinical experience revealed to the team several aspects of clinical Oncology data management that simply had to be addressed in the new platform for it to be a success, including how:
- Oncology reporting satisfies standards and mandates of not just one, but multiple agencies, including state-level registry and Commission on Cancer requirements.
- New rapid reporting requirements introduced by the CoC are replacing retrospective data models.
- There is a high reliance on running time-consuming, manual queries for common data insights using the current tools in the market.
“The clinical team was able to educate us on the pain points and technology gaps of the available tools so we could solve for them in the new platform,” adds Kelli.
The team credits this exclusive guidance for many of the Oncology Platform’s unique capabilities. The streamlined process of capturing and submitting clinical Oncology data was made possible by efforts early on to establish close relationships with the various standard-setting agencies. This facilitated ongoing communication about the platform’s compatibility with each of their requirements. Real-time analytics, reporting and dashboards are distinguishing features within the new platform designed to meet the new rapid reporting requirements. Additionally, the new platform’s initial analytics package is deliberately comprehensive enough to ensure highly sought insights are part of the standard reporting, thus making tedious manual queries obsolete except for specific, one-off circumstances.
The sheer breadth and depth of clinical Oncology data expertise at Q-Centrix is a direct result of the CHAMPS Oncology integration, which increased the number of CTRs on the team ten-fold. As part of a broader strategy, it accelerated an expansion of Q-Centrix technology and clinical expertise across all major health care service lines. This paved the way for the introduction of the industry’s first enterprise clinical data management (eCDMTM) platform—the only solution in the market that’s certified to submit data for surgical, regulatory, cardiology, and oncology registries.
Joseph Castellano, the Director of Enterprise Technology Growth at Q-Centrix, who also joined Q-Centrix from CHAMPS Oncology, points out that Oncology is often considered a money loser due to the complexities and high costs of cancer care and the clinical data management burdens.
“One of the biggest challenges that Oncology programs face is a lack of coordination of all the resources that go into managing clinical data,” Joseph explains. “When your ‘hair is on fire,’ the last thing you are thinking about is what creative path to take to innovate your cancer program. At Q-Centrix, we’re coming at the problem from the other direction, by showing hospitals and health systems what is possible with their data.”
Because it involves collecting far more data elements than most other areas of care, clinical Oncology data provides outstanding opportunities for enterprise-level applications. Unlike clinical data experts in other service lines, CTRs follow patients throughout their entire cancer journeys and collect a wide range of information, including patients’ status before, during, and after treatment and their migration across health care facilities. The team at Q-Centrix strongly believes the ability to gain real-time insights from this data can reveal legitimate paths to improved clinical and financial outcomes, and repeatedly put the platform to the test by routinely sharing features with a group of partner hospitals for feedback.
“Gleaning the insights needed to transform an Oncology program in terms of both care and revenue-generation becomes a real possibility when you have a solution capable of generating high-fidelity, timely clinical data,” Joseph adds. “We took steps to affirm our notions by seeking input from our partners and asking them to review key aspects of the solution to give us a real-world understanding of what was working and what was not, so we could make the necessary changes for success.”
For instance, if one facility excels at cancer surgery and a nearby facility has a phenomenal radiation clinic, the corresponding patient migration patterns will be seen within the data sets that both facilities have access to. This information can drive strategic decision-making about allocation of limited resources, such as deciding not to establish a competing radiation clinic and instead partner with the existing one nearby—which will best serve a hospital’s patients as well as its finances.
“I’m encouraged by our efforts to provide health systems with the resources and ability to gather powerful cancer patient stories and learn from the details within this data,” stresses Karen. “I feel empowered as part of a team developing new solutions to refine each patients’ story and knowing with each data element collected and analyzed many more patients will join me as a cancer survivor.”