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Oracle Software Supporting Moffitt’s Personalized Ambitions


Health-IT suite to enable personalized oncology.

By Deborah Borfitz

June 8, 2011 | Moffitt Cancer Center recently announced that it selected Oracle Health Sciences solutions as the foundation for its next-generation health and research informatics platform. The ground-breaking partnership will support efforts by Moffitt’s longitudinal research initiative Total Cancer Care (TCC) to supply doctors of the future with a bedside decision-making tool for better matching patients to trials and treatments, says Mark Hulse, vice president, information technology and chief information officer at Moffitt Cancer Center.

TCC consortium members represent 18 hospitals—ten in Florida and eight in other states—that enroll patients being treated for cancer at their institution into the ongoing study at Moffitt (see, “Merck-Moffitt Partnership Breaks Down Silos,” Bio•IT World, July 2008). Participants contribute clinical information and excess tumor samples in a quest to identify disease biomarkers that can help physicians guide the right people into clinical trials, says Hulse. Patients are followed for life and contacted with pertinent new treatment or clinical trial information.

To date, TCC has enrolled close to 75,000 patients and collected 24,000 tumor samples, 16,000 of which have been molecularly profiled, says Hulse. A year ago, Moffitt realized it needed an analytics platform linking together all that information—including highly complex genetic expression data—to arrive at actionable intelligence that could be shared with clinicians and researchers.

A request-for-concept went out to seven potential health care information technology partners, knowing no single vendor could supply the complete solution needed, says Hulse. But Oracle proved to have a vision synergistic with Moffitt’s, as well as the most “bench strength” for the job. Oracle is one of few companies focused on linking together clinical, tissue, and molecular data at the product level, rather than custom-building linkages time and again, he notes.

Moffitt selected Oracle Health Sciences Enterprise Healthcare Analytics suite and Oracle Healthcare Master Person Index—along with Oracle Fusion Middleware components and Oracle Database 11g—to underpin the new informatics solution. Oracle has constructed a data model that provides a “pre-populated, pre-defined schema” for creating order out of a giant storehouse of data, says Kris Joshi, vice president of health care product strategy for Oracle Health Sciences. The deal was brokered with Oracle’s three-year-old global health science unit.

Comprehensive, Flexible Tools

Early this fall, trial investigators at Moffitt will be able to tap the informatics system to identify patients that would meet the inclusion and exclusion criteria for research studies, says Hulse. It is the logical starting point for the partnership, given that Moffitt is a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center and leading translational research center.

During the second phase of implementation, the platform will extend to data contributed by all TCC consortium sites. The new informatics environment could in fact help rapidly expand the number of health systems contributing longitudinal data and patient bio-specimens. Ultimately, physicians will be able to reach within Oracle’s data warehouse to assess the relative benefit of a clinical trial to individual patients based on how patients with similar molecular profiles have fared on frontline treatments.

Other niche health care IT vendors with “sophisticated analytics,” such as TransMed Systems and IDBS Translational Research Solutions, will eventually be brought into the fold to facilitate analysis of genomic and phenotypic data against other information in the Oracle database, says Hulse. That would enable users to not only detect patterns that shape patient outcomes, but cause-and-effect time points such as how soon after taking an oncology drug a patient experiences a toxic effect. Oracle Healthcare Data Warehouse Foundation provides a “standardized, comprehensive data model against which these kinds of companies can build their products [and] analytics capabilities,” he explains.

TCC’s broad objective is to better leverage all available data to create a “comprehensive, flexible” decision-making tool accessible on a clinician’s iPhone, iPad, or other mobile device of choice, says Hulse. Moffitt will be developing evidence-based best practices and clinical pathways that will be shared with the cancer care community at large. But the methodology for quickening the pace of discoveries represents intellectual property for which Oracle and Moffitt will mutually benefit, potentially beyond the realm of oncology.

M2Gen, a wholly owned, for-profit subsidiary of Moffitt Cancer Center, oversees the collection of data and tissue at consortium sites. M2Gen resulted from a research collaboration forged in December 2006 with Merck & Co. to develop personalized cancer treatments for patients using molecular technology.   

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