Benefits of Implementing an Automated Workflow Cancer Conference Platform

November 2017 Vol 8, No 11
Alyssa Pauls, RN, BSN, OCN
Lehigh Valley Health Network,
Allentown, PA
Kathleen Sevedge, RN, MA, AOCN
Lehigh Valley Health Network,
Allentown, PA
Cynthia Smith, RN, BSN, OCN, MA
Lehigh Valley Health Network,
Allentown, PA

Background: The tumor board, or multidisciplinary cancer conference (MCC), is the foundation of high-value multidisciplinary oncology care through coordinating teams of specialists. Benefits of MCCs include coordination, direction for complicated cases, education, and a forum for communication, emerging technology, and clinical trials.1 The nurse navigator or certified tumor registrar is the central hub of MCC in several institutions, with responsibilities involving collecting cases for presentation, creating an agenda, organizing radiology and pathology, conducting conferences, and collecting data for Commission on Cancer (CoC) accreditation. On average, it takes 10 to 15 hours to prepare 1 conference, resulting in a significant cost to cancer centers. As an example, in the United Kingdom, multidisciplinary conferences require 1 million person-hours at a cost of $75 million annually, indicating the huge costs on hospital systems to operate these conferences.2

Objective: To implement a software platform, OncoLens, to reduce the work hours spent on MCC, improve operational efficiency, and maximize limited hospital resources.

Methods: We implemented a tumor board software platform, OncoLens, in September 2016. The training was conducted at the preceding cancer conference, lasting 20 minutes. Separate training was held for the cancer conference coordinators and navigators to become superusers.

Results: The MCC platform, OncoLens, has been running on average 8 conferences a month at our center. It has been running for 9 months. There has been no software-related downtime and no IT-related implementation costs. We have discussed 350 cases so far and have collected all data required by the CoC and the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC) through this platform. Data on specific quality metrics required for CoC and our individual programs, like discussion of reproductive counseling, are available and rapidly searchable. Savings to the system so far are estimated to be at least $50,000 annually for the center. Radiology and pathology were able to adopt the system with minimal training and derived additional time savings. We have been able to easily add a Lung Nodule Conference and a Molecular Tumor Board to our existing conferences. It takes conference coordinators less than 30 minutes to assign cases to conferences each week and to collect the relevant data for CoC and NAPBC. The platform has allowed early identification and discussion of clinical trials and genetics.

Conclusions: Automated workflows through platforms like OncoLens can result in a significant reduction of time and resources to run cancer conferences. Expansion of the program becomes possible with these automated workflows. Training requirements were minimal. Provider utilization was quickly achieved. We transitioned entirely to cases being entered electronically. It takes less than 30 minutes to assign cases to conferences and collect all the data for the CoC. We were able to add 2 new conferences with minimal increase in workload. There were substantive cost savings to the hospital.


  1. Brauer DG, Strand MS, Sanford DE, et al. Utility of a multidisciplinary tumor board in the management of pancreatic and upper gastrointestinal diseases: an observational study. HPB (Oxford). 2017;19:133-139.
  2. Simcock R, Heaford A. Costs of multidisciplinary teams in cancer are small in relation to benefits. BMJ. 2012;344:e3700.
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Last modified: April 22, 2021

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