Preventing unwarranted variability of care for cancer patients

Via Oncology, now with Elsevier, helps oncologists give their patients the best evidence-based treatment

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Preventing unwarranted variability of care.

For clinicians around the world, that concept is key to providing patients with the best and most cost-effective care.

Trying to prevent unwarranted variability of care is all about making sure the greatest number of clinicians are following the same generally accepted, proven, evidence-based treatments in any location. Simply stated, a patient with a specific disease and comorbidities should expect to get the same best evidence-based care plan regardless of where the patient goes to receive their care.

At Via Oncology, helping prevent unwarranted variability of care for cancer patients is a concept woven through everything we’ve done since we founded the company 10 years ago at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). We engage our customers – oncologists around the US – to develop and maintain the Via Pathways for almost all aspects of cancer care. We bring them together every three months to review newly published literature and create algorithms to drive to the single best approach for each unique patient. Where the data are not clear, we harness the collective best thinking of what is now more than 1,700 physicians within a mix of academic and hospital and community practices.

Finally, we deploy these clinical pathways to the bedside through a decision-support tool that is integrated with the electronic health record (EHR). The Via Portal captures each patient encounter in order to measure and understand adherence and adoption.

Why Elsevier is a great home for Via Oncology

Elsevier is well known in the healthcare industry and has a great reputation. It traditionally has focused on reference solutions for caregivers (books, journals, online reference tools). But over the last 8 to 10 years, Elsevier’s Clinical Solutions group has been focused on becoming part of the clinician workflow.

As Elsevier colleagues looked for workflow solutions that could, at the point of care, support busy clinicians and particularly the treatment of oncological diseases and conditions,they found us at Via Oncology. (We’re in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – one of the country’s hottest tech markets).

We believe that Via very much accelerates Elsevier’s movement into workflow solutions that are closely tied to and embedded into the electronic health record (EHR).

Our visions for clinical pathways and better workflow solutions for clinicians are well aligned. Elsevier and Via agree on three big reasons why clinical pathways embedded in to clinicians’ workflows are key to improving patient outcomes:

  1. Clinicians’ information overload. From the latest journal articles and reprints, to clinical trial results and studies on advances in therapeutics, it’s increasingly difficult for clinicians to stay on top of this deluge. With Via’s frequent updating process and specificity of the best care recommendations, our clinical pathways help clinicians struggling to keep up with new data. Similarly, Elsevier’s Order Sets and Care Planning, recently awarded top honors from KLAS, plus its flagship ClinicalKey online medical reference solution, also attack the information overload problem.
  2. EHR integration. Via’s clinical pathways are seamlessly integrated with the EHR which is essential to physician adoption. Via puts the pathways directly into the physicians’ daily workflow and acts as an alerting tool for other staff in the clinic.
  3. Measuring utilization and learning from this data. We have a tremendous opportunity with the tighter integration of clinical pathways with the EHR to not only measure adherence to the pathways but also learn from the data to continually improve the clinical pathways. Artificial intelligence can be applied to help clinicians better predict which patients will respond to which treatments as well as have toxicities and adverse events.

Why this was a good time to join Elsevier

At Via, we reached an inflection point where our future scaling and expansion into other areas of oncology, like precision medicine and predictive analytics, was going to be very hard without a big partner. By joining Elsevier, we have a much greater opportunity to expand in those areas and also into bigger markets outside the US.

Our customers think so, too. Their reaction has been extremely positive. I think they see the relationship between Via and Elsevier similarly – we are creating great synergy by joining Via to Elsevier’s Clinical Solutions group.

I also think Via’s customers are quite excited to see what we can do to further integrate Via with the EHR. Elsevier has great experience with the big EHR vendors. We look to take advantage of that.

What might we see in the future?

There are a number of places where we think we can improve Via Oncology.

I think EHR integration, while we have made great strides, can be improved. It’s really key, because the easier you can make it for the physician to use clinical pathways in real time at the point of care, the more helpful that information is for making the right decision, at the right time, for the right patient. We believe that seamlessness is critical to patient care.

Also, Elsevier brings a wealth of content that will enhance our clinical pathways, with referential information and even with the analytics for precision medicine. For instance, with more precise patient information, we will be able to help clinicians better understand which patients are likely to develop certain toxicities from certain treatment regimens.

We should be able to do some great things in terms of supplementing evidence-base from trials with real-world evidence to create a continually more precise plan for patients. I think this is one of the tangible ways an integration with Elsevier can improve the care experience.

One thing that Dr. John Danaher, the President of Clinical Solutions at Elsevier, has noted is that we have a responsibility, in a world of value-based reimbursement, to develop the patient pathways alongside our clinical pathways. That’s another exciting possibility for the future.


Written by

Kathy Lokay

Written by

Kathy Lokay

Kathy Lokay is the General Manager of Via Oncology, an oncology decision support company focused on improving outcomes for patients with cancer. She joined Via in 2008 to commercialize the internally developed University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s clinical pathways and has led its growth to a customer base of over 1,700 physicians in 29 states in the US.

Before joining Via in 2008, Kathy was a Senior VP at US Oncology, where she spent over 12 years leading a number of their service lines, including their oncology EMR business and clinical pathways product. She is a former certified public accountant with a BBA in accounting from the University of Texas at Austin.


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