By Lijo Simpson, M.D.
DeKalb Medical is taking a progressive approach to cancer care and seeing great outcomes for their patients. Physicians at the Atlanta-area facility have improved tumor boards for comprehensive review of patient cases by using new OncoLens technology to discuss and develop treatment plans in real time. This increases collaboration and allows for swifter treatment which assures the patient they are receiving quality care. It has also allowed the facility to introduce regularly scheduled Molecular Tumor Boards, which enables the discussion of a tumor’s genomic fingerprint, thereby creating a personalized treatment plan.
The DeKalb Medical Cancer Center hosts several tumor boards monthly wherein a multidisciplinary panel of more than 50 physicians and cancer team members (medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons, pathologists, radiologists, clinical genetics, palliative care, clinical trials, nutrition, social work, pastoral services and nurse navigators) convene to discuss the care of patients with cancer.
Through this forum, physicians present their cases and gather multiple opinions to draft the right care treatment plan for the patient. These tumor boards also enable doctors and other caregivers to participate in a group learning exercise of new diagnostic and treatment options, including available investigational treatments. The tumor board has quickly become one of the centerpieces of the cancer program extending discussions into the realms of surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, molecular pathology and clinical trials.
Consequently, the number of monthly meetings has tripled over the last three years, significantly increasing the person-hours required to coordinate and conduct the meetings, including an increased need to collect the required data. We knew how important these multidisciplinary meetings were in improving health outcomes for our patients and we needed a system for continuing the meetings without increasing the budget or staff.
In order to streamline the process, DeKalb Medical implemented a new technology, OncoLens. This is a HIPAA compliant, mobile and web based platform that enables physicians and other care providers to discuss and develop treatment plans for their cancer patients in real time. The platform allows cases to be submitted online at the physician’s convenience. The case is then immediately routed to all stakeholders. The contributing specialties upload their data electronically or via the iPhone app while also enabling providers to voice their opinion at any time. The system enables the early involvement of Clinical Trials, Genetics, Nutrition and Palliative Care services available within the DeKalb Medical network. In addition, OncoLens encourages the incorporation of NCCN (National Comprehensive Cancer Network) guidelines to ensure that the highest standards of care are met during the discussions.
As a result of this investment, DeKalb Medical has been able to increase the number of cases collected and discussed at each meeting while producing a significant reduction in the associated administrative burden of running a tumor board. A physician no longer has to wait for more than a week to present a case, but can now submit a case he/she saw the day before in time to significantly impact the treatment plan. Since implementation, cases reviewed have increased and patients have a better chance of getting their cases discussed through this multidisciplinary approach.
The future of Oncology is in Precision Medicine, which involves utilizing therapies that are unique to an individual’s cancer, based on specific genetic abnormalities of that patient’s tumor. This requires the implementation of Molecular Tumor Boards (MTB) which brings in molecular pathologists into the discussion of each patient’s unique cancer. Using the OncoLens platform, DeKalb Medical plans to be among the earliest Community Cancer Centers to implement Molecular Tumor Boards. An automated Clinical Trials Search module is also being developed on OncoLens that will provide information on potential clinical trials that are available for every patient in real time.
Through its tumor boards and recent implementation of OncoLens, DeKalb Medical continues its commitment to bring quality cancer care to its patients, through its physicians, technology, awareness and access to the latest therapies available.