“We now have the tools to collect this big data and to analyze and use the data to make changes.”
Combining best practices from medicine with App Cloud, the Wisdom Study is built around an idea called precision medicine. “Precision medicine means that you’re not going to treat people as one-size-fits-all,” Dr. Esserman explained. Rather than relying on one treatment plan — often based on the worst-case scenario — this approach to patient care takes into account individual variability in genes, differences in biology of cancers that arise, environment, lifestyle, and the performance of our clinical interventions.
Breast cancer is not one disease, and not all breast cancers are the same. Some are not life-threatening, while others are highly aggressive and often difficult to detect via mammogram. Current research shows that more than 20% of newly diagnosed cases of breast cancer in the U.S. are ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) or stage 0, cancers that may not require the aggressive treatments currently prescribed.
The goal of the Wisdom Study is to investigate whether a personalized approach to breast cancer screening is as safe and effective as the current standard practice of annual mammograms. In order to gather a meaningful dataset, the Wisdom Study researcher set out to recruit 100,000 women between the ages of 40 and 74 to participate. Recording and analyzing detailed data from that many people in real time requires an innovative technology partner ready and willing to collaborate. Using App Cloud, the Athena Breast Health Network created a learning platform to recruit the participants, record their individual histories and medical profiles, and glean insights to be reported back to practitioners as the study progresses.
“Every person who comes in front of me is going to be part of this bigger process of learning,” Dr. Esserman said. “And now I can profile that person on an individual basis, and follow them over time.” App Cloud also empowers academic groups to work with larger datasets than they could otherwise. “If the Athena Network wanted to run a trial of 100,000 people,” said Dr. Esserman, “it would not be possible without automation.” UC Health selected Salesforce as a partner in 2010, which has enabled Athena to get closer to its goal of precision medicine over the past five years.