mCODE™—short for Minimal Common Data Elements—is an initiative intended to assemble a core set of structured data elements for oncology electronic health records (EHRs). The goal is to facilitate cancer data interoperability and improve overall cancer data quality for patient care and research by establishing a set of elements that would form the basic data that would populate all EHRs for patients with cancer. mCODE™ has been created and is being supported by ASCO in collaboration with the MITRE Corporation.

Given the near-universal use of EHRs, it is increasingly being recognized that progress could be made if we could capture accurately this “real world” data—the data gathered from clinician-patient interactions that take place during routine healthcare delivery. However, current initiatives to use real-world data are hampered by a number of obstacles with the primary one being that there is too much variability in the way EHRs capture what transpires in the clinical setting, which frequently makes the data gathered from routine care inaccessible or unsuitable for gaining meaningful insights.

By providing a data structure to make this information interoperable—able to be shared by and among different platforms and software brands—providers, patients, and researchers can address crucial clinical questions that are unanswerable today.

Spearheaded by ASCO, a community of organizations, clinicians, and researchers has come together to address the need to obtain high-quality, computable data from the clinical care environment. The foundation of this initiative, mCODE™, will provide data standards that can be adopted by a wide variety of stakeholders to drive quality of care, patient engagement, and research progress.