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Virtual Tumor Board Initiative to Offer Greater Transparency in Brain Tumor Treatment Options

Virtual Tumor Board Initiative to Offer Greater Transparency in Brain Tumor Treatment Options

  • Virtual Tumor Board Initiative to Offer Greater Transparency in Brain Tumor Treatment Options

    Henry Ford Health System and Synaptive Medical planning to make personalized healthcare options more accessible to patients


    Toronto and Detroit (September 27, 2016) — Few days matter more to your health than those immediately following a brain cancer diagnosis. Initial treatment decisions have a direct and significant impact on your ability to qualify for new treatments and clinical trials. Travel to a large, regional treatment center and you still may not find specialists with expertise in your specific and personal disease type. For some patients, navigating treatment options is a bewildering and time-consuming experience, especially for those with rare and aggressive brain cancers, such as Glioblastoma, or those living in isolated areas.

    To help patients find the right treatment from the right facility and improve health outcomes, Henry Ford Health System, a leading center for brain tumor clinical trials, research, and advanced technology, is endeavoring with Toronto-based Synaptive Medical to empower ONConnect. This data-driven platform will aim to transparently connect brain cancer patients to available treatment opportunities in a timely, organized fashion.

    “We believe every patient deserves the highest level of care, including access to opportunities that will connect them with the best and most individualized treatment solutions for cancer,” said Dr. Steven Kalkanis, Chair of the Henry Ford Department of Neurosurgery and Director of the Henry Ford Cancer Institute. “The reality is that some patients do not currently have access to the latest molecular, genetic, precision medicine treatment protocols, and, some physicians may not be aware of available technological advances or groundbreaking clinical trials such as those offered at Henry Ford or other major centers around the world. Our goal is to enable an informatics solution to connect those patients and referring physicians with personalized resources in the most efficient way, when they need them most.”

    ONConnect would provide a virtual hospital tumor board—the multidisciplinary, clinical decision-making bodies within hospitals that consider a broad range of factors when creating a clinical treatment plan. These factors may include everything from the tumor’s genetic composition, its location and pathology, the patient’s treatment history and current condition, and tumor imaging before recommending a treatment plan to preserve function and life.

    Making tumor boards virtual could also allow referring physicians with limited access to disease-specific expertise to participate in the process, creating opportunities for standardization and leveraging efficiencies within the healthcare system.

    The plan is for Henry Ford Health System to license knowhow and data to be melded to Synaptive Medical’s ImageDrive™ software, an open and interoperable Informative architecture that was cleared by the FDA earlier this year.

    “ONConnect is a great example of how we can drive extensible use of structured and curated data sets with health providers,” said Wes Hodges, Co-Founder and Director, Informatics & External Collaboration.

    Henry Ford Health System will launch a pilot of ONConnect in 2017, with a long-term goal of empowering patients and the referring community through an education and access tool that would allow users to tailor and identify available treatment options based on their personalized imaging, genomic, and health data.

    “I’ve met so many patients, families and providers who feel lost trying to find the right center to help them, particularly for rare conditions that require extremely specialized resources,” says Dr. James Snyder, Neuro-Oncologist in Henry Ford’s Hermelin Brain Tumor Center, whose specialization includes research into the structure and function of tumor boards within cancer centers. “Identifying where to go for help can be a real struggle, and since the clock never stops ticking, the anxiety can be immense for patients and their families. Creating easier, more transparent ways to quickly determine the best treatment opportunities and preserve life is the reason we are excited to be a part of this innovative solution.”

    Henry Ford Health System, one of the nation’s leading integrated health systems, is a leader in personalized medicine and a key advocate under Vice-President Biden’s moonshot challenge to create tangible solutions to apply its principles to patient care. The health system is also home to one of the largest brain tumor tissue banks in the world with thousands of samples on file. They are also a leading contributor to the Cancer Genome Atlas’ brain project; approximately 40 percent of all specimens submitted to the project are from Henry Ford Health System.

    “Collaborating with physicians to solve challenges both in and beyond the operating room to improve patient outcomes is core to Synaptive’s culture, and we welcome opportunities to find new connections with healthcare leaders like Henry Ford Health System,” said Cameron Piron, president. “From our standpoint, this project began with very candid, human discussions of the grief patients experience when trying to determine treatment plans during the Canada-U.S. Health IT Summit in Detroit. We welcome its evolution and look forward to leveraging our combined expertise to help Henry Ford Health System and other hospitals find better, broader solutions for brain cancer patients.” 

    To inquire about treatment at the Hermelin Brain Tumor Center or the Department of Neurosurgery at Henry Ford Hospital, call 313 9161340 or email

    For more information about Henry Ford and the Hermelin Brain Tumor Center, visit


    About Henry Ford Health System | Henry Ford Health System is a six-hospital system headquartered in Detroit, Michigan. It is one of the nation’s leading comprehensive, integrated health systems, recognized for clinical excellence and innovation. Henry Ford Health System provides both health insurance and health care delivery, including acute, specialty, primary and preventive care services backed by excellence in research and education. The system is a 2011 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipient. Visit to learn more.


    About Synaptive Medical | Synaptive Medical Inc., a Toronto-based medical device company, has a talented team of scientists, engineers and locally-based customer care specialists specifically committed to developing and supporting surgical technologies and therapies. Their BrightMatter™ Solutions provide advanced tools and information that allow surgeons to focus on patient outcomes. From advanced visualization and guidance to their first hands-free surgical scope, Synaptive Medical collaborates with surgeons, hospitals and industry partners to evolve the standard of care for surgical intervention.


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    Brenda D. Craig

    Director, Media Relations

    Henry Ford Health System



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    Sherrie Van Oss

    National Marketing Program Manager

    Synaptive Medical