During a session at the 42nd Annual Congress in Denver, CO—on what happened to be National Nurses Day—the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) asked nurses to consider joining an initiative intended to gather, collate, and disseminate massive amounts of data to enhance evidence-based cancer diagnosis and treatment.

CancerLinQ, LLC, a not-for-profit subsidiary of ASCO, is a resource that ingests patient data from electronic health records of individual practices and institutions throughout the country. The data are then aggregated and disseminated so that professionals can use it to improve the quality of patient care and outcomes by comparing their current practice to real-world evidence.

According to Rory Lettvin, CancerLinQ program manager, 3% of patients with cancer are in clinical trials, and those data are reported and available for clinical decision making. But data on the remaining 97% of patients remain “sequestered” in the records of individual practices and institutions. “Oncology is one of the toughest spaces to be on the cutting edge,” he said. “It’s hard to get data in real time.” CancerLinQ will capture such data so that practices can use it clinically.

ONS Chief Strategy Officer Michele McCorkle, RN, MSN, and CancerLinQ Chief of Strategic Alliances Jennifer Wong, MPP, explained how it works:

  • Data from a practice are pulled into CancerLinQ via a daily feed. The practice does not have to enter data.
  • CancerLinQ ingests and processes identifiable data at the individual patient level.
  • CancerLinQ then uses statistical methodologies to de-identify data to be included in aggregate data sets.
  • Powerful data analytics tools, parameter reports, and quality performance indicators are made available to the practice and accessible via a standard Web browser via a secure connection.

Eighty-five U.S. practices are already enrolled, but CancerLinQ aims to grow and improve the network, so they are seeking four oncology nurse ambassadors.

“You all are stewards of the data,” Rich Ross, chief operating officer of CancerLinQ, said. “You use it every day to drive patient care. That is a valuable commodity.”

Four ambassadors in Salt Lake City, UT; the Bay Area of California; Chicago, IL; and South Dakota will drive user engagement and adoption, inform practices about education and training, ensure users get the most out of CancerLinQ to improve care, and more.

“Not all clinicians understand data, and not all data analysts understand clinical workflow,” Lettvin said. “So ambassadors will bridge the gap.”

McCorkle expressed the importance of the partnership between ONS and CancerLinQ. She said the program needs to leverage the knowledge of nurses, who are known as change agents. “This really speaks to the ONS mission to transform cancer care,” she said.

A CancerLinQ ambassador must meet the following criteria:

  • ONS member
  • Bachelor-prepared nurse
  • Oncology-certified nurse
  • Interested in the intersection of quality, medicine, data, and technology
  • Highly respected in the field
  • Part of the professional community
  • Patient advocate.

Nurses interested in learning more about CancerLinQ or becoming an ambassador should email CancerLinQ@ons.org.