Standardizing EHRs for Patients

Data from most of the nearly 15 million individuals living with cancer in the U.S is contained in EHRs of some kind. However, many EHR systems, use different terms to describe the same type of data, collect data in different formats and systems making interoperability difficult to achieve.

This lack of incompatibility drastically limits the ability of cancer researchers and doctors to learn from patient records, makes care coordination difficult, and adds to administrative costs for practices and patients.

MITRE, American Society of Clinical Oncology https:///Cancer.Net, and the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology Foundation have identified a core set of data elements and recommend technical specifications referred to as the “Minimal Common Oncology Data Elements” or “mCODE”. The mCODE captures and reports characteristics, treatments, and outcomes for cancer patients and needs to be in the patient’s EHR. The mCODE elements are grouped into six main areas to include the patient demographics, disease details, genomics, labs/vitals, treatment, and outcomes.

Jay J. Schnitzer, MD, PhD, and Chief Technology Officer at MITRE reports, “Through wide adoption and integration of cancer data standards, and the application of technologies like Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR), sharing information on treatment experiences could be turned into data that patients and clinicians could use to better navigate care options. Currently, mCODE is being piloted at cancer centers across the country, including Partners Healthcare in Boston and Intermountain Healthcare headquartered in Salt Lake City.”

To help guide the evolution of mCODE, the mCODE Executive Committee created the mCODE Council. The Council will advise the Executive Committee, sponsor use cases, and provide input regarding future data elements concerning use cases. Information on joining the Council is available at

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