University of Utah Health, Intermountain win $3.8M NCI grant to create cancer screening tool

Erin DIETSCHE
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The National Cancer Institute has awarded a $3.8 million grant to researchers at the University of Utah Health, Intermountain Healthcare and the Huntsman Cancer Institute, enabling them to develop an advanced cancer screening tool.

Their creation will marry EHR technologies and clinical decision support (CDS) techniques to screen patients for breast cancer and colorectal cancer.

The tool will pinpoint those who are at high risk for these types of cancer. It will also offer individualized evidence so clinicians and patients can understand proper screening strategies.

Researchers from the Salt Lake City-based organizations will rely on assistance from oncologists, primary care physicians and genetic counselors.

“The goal of the CDS project is to enable a standards-based and scalable CDS platform for individualized cancer screening to be used across healthcare organizations,” Guilherme Del Fiol and Kensaku Kawamoto, assistant professors of biomedical informatics at University of Utah Health, noted in a statement. “To achieve this goal, our team of researchers will extend and solidify two well-established open source CDS Web services based on rule logic and information retrieval.”

Such a vendor agnostic solution seeks to address issues with extant screening techniques. For example, some EHRs don’t have CDS capabilities, and other clinical decision support systems have closed architectures.

Scott Narus, Intermountain’s medical informatics director and chief clinical systems architect, said the project will have a positive impact on oncology research.

“With the collaboration between the University of Utah and Intermountain Healthcare, and the support of the National Cancer Institute, we have the potential to produce a CDS platform that has significant impact on individualizing cancer screening according to the best available evidence,” he said. “Our aim is to improve patient care and outcomes through evidence-based medicine.”

With assistance from Intermountain, University of Utah Health will develop the tool and demonstrate its effectiveness. Then Intermountain will test it to prove it’s transferable to another organization and EHR system.

Intermountain is no stranger to the evidence-based oncology game. In 2013, it partnered with Syapse, a precision medicine software company, to launch Intermountain Precision Genomics.

University of Utah Health, Intermountain win $3.8M NCI grant to create cancer screening tool