SHOOTING FOR THE MOON: WHY DATA CENTRALIZATION ISN’T THE ANSWER IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CANCER
In June 2016, Signet Accel had the honor of attending the National Cancer Moonshot Summit at Howard University, an initiative created under President Obama. One year later, the administration has changed and our healthcare system may as well—but former Vice President Joe Biden’s commitment to bring more data to the fight against cancer remains.
The Moonshot hasn’t taken its eye off its target: curing cancer through collaboration. This recent CNBC piece, “Joe Biden’s Moonshot to Crack the Code on Cancer,” explores barriers to its success, primarily a new administration, proposed budget cuts and siloed data still in need of standardization and centralization. While the issues of shifting policy and funds cannot be ignored, we believe a new perspective is in order: Why are we still talking about pooling data when we can be talking about sharing it?
This is a business problem. The medical community is also ready to find a cure for cancer, but its data assets are hard-won, there’s little incentive or support to standardize and combine them—especially when we consider that medicine cannot survive as a purely altruistic industry. But it’s also a technical problem. Most organizations cannot fully integrate and share data that they own within their own walls, much less with existing collaborators or on a national scale. It stretches far beyond researchers, physicians, biotech and pharma…Epic, Allscripts, Cerner and IBM are also in the mix from a tech perspective. (These companies do not own the data, but they certainly play a role in its usefulness.)
The Moonshot seeks to supersede these varied entanglements by standardizing data, breaking down silos and combining it. But is that a flaw in the Moonshot and its trajectory? Is it truly logical or efficient? Is it even necessary? Time is the most important asset we have when it comes to cancer research, treatment and discovery. Faster access to data will create efficiencies, save money and most importantly extend—and save—lives. The CNBC piece further drives home the vastness of the cancer conundrum and the human cost of the ticking timeclock:
According to the American Cancer Society, it is estimated that in the United States 600,920 people — or 1,650 people per day — will die from cancer in 2017; another 1,688,780 new cases will be diagnosed. Except for heart disease, cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States, exceeded only by heart disease. Worldwide, cancer accounts for 1 in every 7 deaths, said the ACA, and in 2030 about 21.6 million new cancer cases and 13 million cancer deaths are expected to occur.
It’s an uncomfortable truth that we are all touched by cancer. We have data in abundance but time passes quickly. Can we initiate progress, together, by viewing the problem through a new lens? The United Nations collaborates on world issues, but each nation maintains its own language and identity. We communicate through translators, not by forcing a standard language. The internet is a vast source of information—all disparate, all searchable, shared and useful. Can we widen our view and apply these concepts to curing cancer? What if, collectively, we can make the data work without making the organizations involved re-work and sacrifice their own sustainability?
This is where Avec® comes in: a federated data integration platform that essentially plays the role of translator, collaborator and conjoiner. Avec® connects data as it is and where it is—regardless of its source or location or what technical language it speaks. Cooperative research can be enabled without giving up ownership or control, allowing competitors to work together without threat of losing the value of their investments. Avec® offers data integration and sharing without sacrifice in ownership and security, and it delivers faster than ever before.
There is a perception in our industry that true data integration just isn’t possible without requiring one silo and one data standard. We’re here to dispel that doubt. It’s happening now, and it can be done in a way that not only benefits investigators, clinicians and patients, but also the bottom line without sacrificing data ownership or patient privacy.
Ultimately, our work is about bringing data together and saving more lives. It’s about far more than code, and that’s what keeps us pushing forward to harness the power of dynamic and multi-dimensional data in healthcare. Every piece of data represents a person: a friend, a loved one, a relative, a colleague. It’s time to see more, learn more and do more—faster—together.
We currently employ Avec® to connect data in cancer research with the international Hairy Cell Leukemia Foundation, using the power of interoperability in rare disease. Additionally, the nation’s third-largest cancer hospital, The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, looks to Avec to enable data capture, sharing and matching—while maintaining patient privacy—in a Cancer Research Information Exchange spanning multiple cancer centers nationwide. Contact me today to learn how Avec® can bridge the gap in your organization.
Brenda Berry, EVP Sales and Marketing
614.300.1101, ext. 110