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Q&A with Sarah Cannon’s Andy Corts and HealthSystem CIO, Part 1: Defining a Cancer Data Model

Andy Corts, CIO of Sarah Cannon Research Institute, was recently featured in a podcast on HealthSystemCIO. He explained how when an individual is diagnosed with cancer, he or she goes from having a primary care physician to having a team of care providers, including nutritionists, surgeons, and radiologists. It can become overwhelming, to put it mildly. It’s precisely why Sarah Cannon, the Cancer Institute of HCA Healthcare, implemented a system of cancer navigators to help guide patients and their families by coordinating appointments, answering questions, and providing education. “These cancer navigators,” says CIO Andy Corts, “are our most precious resource.”

The data is critical for us to grab, but it always came back to our EMR system in an unstructured way. And when it came back unstructured…we had to read through each pathology result and report to actually find the patient. It was an incredibly manual effort…Now we have a model that can read & flag it, so we can act upon all those diagnoses.

The challenge came in harnessing the data — which can be complicated in any area but is infinitely more difficult in the “incredibly fragmented” oncology environment. Corts and his team have made it their key priority to combine data sets into a common warehouse and leverage analytics to be able to “view the entire patient journey.” In this interview, he talks about how they’ve been able to define a cancer data model, how they’re partnering with Digital Reasoning to automate manual processes and enable more personalized care, and the journey that brought him to HCA, and eventually, Sarah Cannon.

Kate Gamble and Andy Corts will cover the following in part one of a two-part podcast series:

  • About Sarah Cannon (cancer service line for HCA’s 185 hospitals, managed services for 50 cancer centers, clinical trial platform)
  • Managing data in an “incredibly fragmented” environment
  • Foundation of a data warehouse & EMPI
  • “We didn’t have a defined data model for cancer.”
  • Acquiring GenoSpace to focus on personalized medicine – “It allows us to bring genomic data in and map it so we have one standard.”
  • Challenges with clinical trials recruitment
  • Working with Digital Reasoning


Written By
Chris Cashwell

Chris Cashwell is our Vice President of Healthcare Solutions. He describes himself as a “passionate pioneer” in healthcare IT and focuses on improving patient care and health systems’ bottom line. At Digital Reasoning, Chris oversees a dedicated team focused on deploying AI solutions that solve real-world healthcare challenges.

Find Chris on LinkedIn