For the second year in a row, a joint SASRO-ISROI session was held during the SASRO Annual Meeting on Thursday 31 August. The session was held as an Informatics Symposium with the title “Informatics in Radiation Oncology, Exchanging Information in a Clinical Context”.
During this year’s annual meeting of SASRO (Scientific Association of Swiss Radiation Oncology) in Bern, 31 August – 2 September, a joint SASRO-ISROI session took place on the first day, following last year’s successful inaugural event. Three speakers highlighted the challenges of data exchange and the need for standardisation and harmonisation of data collection:
Nikola Cihoric, radiation oncologist at the Inselspital in Bern, spoke about “COMMON DATA ELEMENTS IN RADIATION ONCOLOGY”. Common Data Elements (CDE) are already established in other disciplines such as radiology, but not yet in radiation oncology. Based on a project initiated by ISROI, he showed that in the “simple” case of a CT prescription, there is a huge variety of elements used in different institutions. This demonstrates the need for a standard to facilitate the exchange of data between centres.
The second presentation “TRANSFORMATION OF RADIOTHERAPY THROUGH BIG DATA” was given by John Byrne, a medical physicist from the Northern Centre for Cancer Care in Newcastle, England. He showed how data exchange between hospitals of the NHS England works using the tool ProKnow. Several examples highlighted the importance of being able to directly compare dose distributions from different centres. Only with such transparency will it be possible to check how well guidelines are being followed or, in the absence of guidelines, what the standard of care could be.
The third presentation was given by Paul Martin Putora, a radiation oncologist from the Kantonspital St.Gallen: APPLIED INFORMATICS IN DECISION MAKING IN RADIATION ONCOLOGY. Using several examples of decision trees, he showed that even though there are some internationally accepted guidelines, many oncologists follow completely different decision-making strategies when deciding how to treat a specific patient, resulting in a variety of treatment approaches. The big question is how this can be addressed to achieve better harmonisation between different centres and countries. One solution may be to establish clear standards for data collection, for example through CDEs, and to potentially link decision-making strategies with outcome data.
Overall, this session was very well received and the topics addressed went to the heart of the matter: How can radiotherapy evolve in the context of digital transformation to further improve patient outcome?