Government Initiatives & Health IT Join Forces in Cancer Care

Health IT is making waves as it breaks down data barriers both within and across facilities that have previously impeded the creation of a holistic patient health record. The holistic patient health record can not only improve individual outcomes and reduce potential risks like radiology overexposure, but it can also provide an opportunity for medical breakthroughs to be made across shared and readily accessible data.

Cancer Moonshot Plan LogoDuring last January’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama announced the establishment of the Cancer Moonshot initiative. The initiative was put into motion by Vice President Joe Biden following his son’s battle with brain cancer. The focus of Moonshot is to make new treatments available to patients and also to improve our ability to detect and prevent cancer in the first place.  Recently, the Ambra Health team attended the Congress of Neurological Surgeons meeting in San Diego, where panels and speakers discussed Moonshot and its potential impact on hard-to-treat brain cancers and the progress made by clinical trials. Across all medical specialties, Moonshot has made several key recommendations.

  • Expand the use of proven protection and early detection strategies.
  • Provide easy access to prior patient data.
  • Establish a network for direct patient involvement. Patients will have the ability to join a nation-wide clinical trial network that will provide them with a genetic profile of their cancer and allow them to pre-register for trials.
  • Develop a 3-D cancer atlas to pull together multi-disciplinary teams.
  • Create a clinical trial network devoted exclusively to immunotherapy.
  • Build a national cancer data ecosystem.
  • Develop new cancer technologies.
  • Intensify research on the major drivers of childhood cancers.
  • Minimize the side-effects of cancer treatments.
  • Develop ways to overcome resistance to therapy.

Feeling overwhelmed? It’s okay. Not one individual can accomplish all of this alone. Instead, patients, providers, and vendors must work as a team to accomplish these goals.

Here at Ambra Health, we’re focused on making access to patient imaging easy, whether in an individual, provider, facility, or clinical trial setting. Why? We believe in the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words and a medical necessity.

The cloud has certainly had an enormous impact on the way we think about the distribution of medical imaging and associated data. Cloud-based suites like Ambra integrate image management into existing workflows. Modern cloud-based APIs integrate with upstream and downstream systems like portals for patient self-service, or into EMRs/EHRs to improve physician productivity and access. A cloud-based viewer also allows image access from anytime and anywhere.

In the clinical trial world with the cloud, there are no more CDs, VPNs or FTP setup that make it hard to connect to sending sites for trials.   For example, Ambra’s easy image uploader and cloud sharing make it simple to add new facilities to support a time point with just a few clicks, scale-up time points, and add more patients faster. Better yet, by eliminating physical media, we improve the percentage of submission-compliant images automatically, reduce errors, and provide secure archive. 

Moonshot also calls for the prevention and early diagnosis of cancer. Mammograms have proved to be one key method of cancer prevention. However, without previous imaging work, it is difficult to tell if abnormalities are part of a woman’s natural anatomy, or if they are stemming from another cause. At our recent #thinkRADical event in New York City, Dr. Geraldine McGinty, Asst. Chief Contracting Officer, Weill Cornell Medicine, noted that the cloud has been a key technological innovation for the storage of large imaging sets and easy access to patient priors through automated matching. 

At #thinkRADical, physicians and thought leaders also discussed the next major technological innovation, artificial intelligence.  Lea Halim, Senior Consultant, The Advisory Board Company, and Dr. Eliot Siegel, Professor and Vice Chair Research Informatics, University of Maryland School of Medicine, discussed the positive outcomes AI could have on improving patient care and mining the large data sets established by Moonshot. Halim noted that machine learning is a set of algorithms that can learn complex patterns and make predictions from data. This type of learning has shown a lot of promise in areas important to radiology, such as image recognition.

Dr. Siegel also noted that AI could prove highly beneficial for radiologists by cutting down on read times and improving accuracy. In addition, he believes that AI could be a strong resource for mining large data sets for both individual patient care and global insights.

How do you believe AI can impact the way we discover new strategies and treatments in cancer care?


Catherine Slotnick, Marketing Manager

About Catherine Slotnick

Catherine Slotnick is a passionate healthcare marketer with a deep interest in the latest & greatest in the Health IT space. As Ambra Health's Director of Marketing, Catherine primarily focuses on creating and sharing thought leadership content in the radiology and informatics space. Catherine graduated from the University of Virginia with a BA in Psychology & Art History. When she's not writing, she enjoys cooking and petting dogs that aren't hers.

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