Decision support helps Oregon Health personalize care

In Clinical Studies News by Barbara Jacoby



Oregon Health & Science University is using decision support software from Via Oncology to give physicians point-of-care and evidence-based care pathway recommendations.

The technology also better enables the organization, specifically it’s Knight Cancer Institute, to connect patients to locally available clinical trials.

Studies have shown that fewer than one in 20 adults with cancer enroll in clinical trials. Michael Savin, MD, clinical medical director at the Knight Cancer Institute and a practicing oncologist, wants to bump the numbers up considerably.

“I also want to see how artificial intelligence can be used for patients to aid in decision making, and to take this powerful tool and make it highly powerful,” Savin said. “Oncology treatments are very toxic to specific organs, and we need to ensure we make the cancer better but don’t injure the heart or other organs at the same time. Decision support also can be used to assess cost affordability options for patients.”

The Via Oncology software includes a branching system with various questions related to various forms of cancer, and Savin’s questions cover 40 areas of breast cancer to help him drill down to the best treatment options for a specific patient.

Three years ago when the software was developed, 10 percent of clinical trial patients were being assessed via the software, and now the rate is about 14 percent. Other doctors were slow to adopt the software; they all had their own ways of treating their patients, and it has taken a while to build acceptance, Savin recalled.

So, he focused on the most resistant doctors, getting them on various committees, and over time, some of the doubters turned into champions. More recently, well-designed treatment pathways are being developed with the pathways applicable to 70 percent or 80 percent of patients with similar cancers. Consequently, some health insurers who have seen the treatment process now are willing to drop prior authorization requirements, Savin noted. “Even if it’s only a few insurers, that will help.”