Opinion: How imaging could improve tumor boards

Rather than empowering clinicians, data systems are taking valuable time that can be spent with patients

By Mathias Goyen, Prof.

Patient cases can be complex. And so is cancer. It often takes more than one type of doctor or specialist to decide on the course of care for a cancer patient. A multidisciplinary care team, or tumor board brings together experts from various disciplines depending on the type of cancer, such as surgical and radiation oncologists, pathologists, radiologists, reconstructive surgeons and nurses. This allows them to meet as a team to discuss difficult cases and find the best way to treat each cancer patient. The team considers factors like patient history, radiology, surgical and pathological findings, medical issues, best practices and more. Such tumor boards are still fairly new to the industry but important to their success is that patient information is readily available. But it can take hours, sometimes days, for a tumor board to compile the data needed to discern a course of care, most often because patient data is stored in multiple locations. Workflows around tumor board preparations are notoriously inefficient but siloed and fragmented systems is an industry-wide problem. Rather than empowering clinicians, data systems are taking valuable time that can be spent with patients. Each tumor board is also set up differently, contributing to the data problem. They use different tools and can have different workflows and tasks. This not only makes information sharing between them more difficult but inefficiencies in the process can also lead to missing information and longer time to treatment. Bringing the data together Recently, GE Healthcare and Roche announced the release of NAVIFY Tumor Board 2.0 in North America*. This clinical decision support tool allows radiologists to upload their patient records to the same dashboard where patient files from other disciplines in the cancer care team are stored, enabling tumor boards to have a more comprehensive view of each patient in one place. When I was a hospital radiologist and we’d have a tumor board meeting for 20 patients, we’d have to physically assemble the data - images, tests etc. - often on paper or faxes, for each of them. It would take a long time and we would then have to interpret it based on our pooled medical knowledge. With NAVIFY Tumor Board 2.0, much of this can be done digitally. I am personally convinced, that a single, holistic dashboard, including all relevant data and medical images, will enable oncology teams to prepare more efficiently and align more quickly on the optimal diagnosis and treatment plan for the benefit of each patient. Enabling personalized care Some reports state that patients receiving targeted therapy following multidisciplinary molecular tumor boards recommendations had superior outcomes compared with patients not receiving such therapy, including longer overall survival, longer progression-free survival and a trend toward longer time-on-treatment**(Annals of Oncology). Having all the necessary information in the same tool helps specialists use their limited time to align on the best possible treatment plan for each cancer patient and focus on more detailed discussions based on the review of all relevant files. The result is a more efficient process and complete view of the patient for more holistic disease management. When our view of patients is more precise, our care of each patient becomes more personalized. Mathias Goyen is Chief Medical Officer, Europe at GE Healthcare. This post originally appeared here.     * NAVIFY Tumor Board 2.0 is initially available in the United States and Canada with additional markets to follow. **These studies are biased toward the fittest patients and not controlled for outcomes without MTB involvement. However, the observations do suggest that MTBs can help to inform treatment decisions (Annals of Oncology).