CHICAGO — What if all health systems, all hospitals, and all oncologists spoke the same language — or at least used the same core set of standard, “widely available” medical terminologies? Would clinical care improve?

Monica M. Bertagnolli, MD, president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, thinks it would, and she said that is the premise behind the launch of mCODE™: Minimal Common Oncology Data Elements, a joint collaboration between ASCO, ASCO’s wholly owned nonprofit subsidiary, CancerLinQ, LLD, the MITRE Corporation, and the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology Foundation.

Current estimates are that there are roughly 15 million U.S. residents living with cancer, and all them have data contained in a multitude of EHRS — although most health systems use market leaders like Epic or Cerner, there are myriad numbers of EHR software programs available, and “none of them speak the same language,” she said.

Bertagnolli, who unveiled mCODE at an ASCO press conference, said mCODE is “available free of charge and is accessible for download at

The initial data standards cover six domains: patient, lab/visits, disease, genomics, treatment, and outcomes with 73 distinct data elements. Asked if the intent is to limit mCODE to the U.S., Bertagnolli said that the initial outreach is to the U.S., “but we would welcome worldwide partners.”

As to the buy-in by the leading software vendors? Robert S. Miller, MD, medical director of CancerLinQ, said the commercial vendors were asked for comment during the development process, but he did not indicate that they had an active interest. Also unknown is the possibility of partnering with large integrated systems like the VA or NCCN (National Comprehensive Cancer Network).

Current collaborators include the National Cancer Institute, FDA, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Biden Cancer Initiative, and Intermountain Healthcare., a service of @Point of Care, LLC, which provides daily medical news reports curated to serve the unique needs of busy physicians and other healthcare professionals.