Improving Cancer-Related Outcomes with Connected Health

A Report to the President of the United States from the President's Cancer Panel

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Part 2:

Taking Action to Enhance Cancer Prevention, Care, and Research with Connected Health

Connected health has potential to transform cancer prevention, care, survivorship, and research. However, effective application of technologies to achieve this goal is not inevitable. Although technologies have been widely adopted in healthcare settings and among the general population, health information often remains trapped in silos, and individuals and healthcare providers often lack the tools they need to access and optimally use these data. Thoughtful and steadfast actions are needed to eliminate barriers to connected health and design and implement tools that capitalize on the potential of existing and emerging technologies. In this report, the Panel identifies critical objectives and associated action items that, if implemented, should enhance access to health information, support patient-centered care and patient engagement, enhance the experience of providing care for physicians and other members of the oncology workforce, and accelerate progress in cancer research (Figure 4).

Figure 4

Action Items to Advance Connected Health for Cancer

This graphic presents the President’s Cancer Panel’s action items to advance connected health for cancer. 
                    The first set of action items is labeled “individuals, patients, and caregivers” and has an icon of a person holding a mobile phone. The action items focus on tools to support engagement, processes to fix medical record errors, and tools to identify clinical trials. 
                    The second set of action items is labeled “oncology workforce” and has an icon of a woman with a stethoscope. The action items in this set focus on federal incentives to promote health IT, more-usable EHR interfaces, and tools tailored to workforce needs. 
                    The third set of action items is labeled “data sharing and integration” and has an icon of a line graph. The action items in this set focus on learning healthcare systems, enhanced cancer surveillance, and knowledge networks for cancer research. 
                    The fourth set of action items is labeled “interoperability” and has an icon of three lines converging. The action items in this set focus on a nationwide, interoperable health IT system; technical standards for cancer information; and open, standard API platforms. 
                    The fifth set of action items is labeled “Internet access” and has an icon with a tablet and mobile phone. The action items in this set focus on Internet access for individuals and providers and healthcare organizations.

Privacy and Security

Breaches of health information can harm individuals, large groups of people, and organizations, damaging stakeholder trust. Without this trust, stakeholders will be less willing to share their data, undermining the goals of connected health. Although none of the recommendations in this report directly address privacy and security, the Panel encourages all stakeholders to take steps to appropriately protect privacy and ensure security while also sharing health data for learning to the extent possible. Additional information can be found on the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) website or in ONC’s Guide to Privacy and Security of Electronic Health Information. Information on how the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects privacy and security of health information can be found on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.

Sources: Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. Health IT privacy and security resources [Internet]. Washington (DC): ONC; [updated 2016 Feb 12; cited 2016 Oct 3]. Available from: https://www.healthit.gov/providers-professionals/ehr-privacy-security/resources; Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. Guide to privacy and security of electronic health information. Washington (DC): ONC; 2015 Apr. Available from: https://www.healthit.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/privacy/privacy-and-security-guide.pdf; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Health information privacy [Internet]. Washington (DC): DHHS; [cited 2016 Oct 3]. Available from: http://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/