FAQs

The mCODE data standard, once adopted across the oncology community, promises to greatly increase the amount of high-quality data for all cancer types, which can be used by clinicians and researchers.

For more information, please contact mcode-info@asco.org.

    What is mCODE™?

    mCODE™ is a core set of structured data elements for oncology that will establish minimum recommended standards for the structure and content of health record information across use cases and users. The goal of mCODE is to improve the overall quality and consistency of cancer data available to clinicians, patients, researchers, and other stakeholders in the fight against cancer.

    The expectation is that mCODE, which is both a common language and a model, will facilitate patient care and inform research by enabling analysis of data across the lifetime of a single cancer patient and across patient cohorts.

    Our goal is to establish mCODE as the standard, FHIR-based (HL7 Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources), use-case-driven, data element set that will be used to populate all electronic health records (EHRs) for patients with cancer.

    mCODE is open source, non-commercial, and highly collaborative. The mCODE Initiative seeks to engage with, not replace, broader standards initiatives. mCODE is provided free of charge.

    Who developed mCODE?

    mCODE has been developed by a multidisciplinary group of subject matter experts, including oncology clinicians, informaticists, health services researches, experts in data standards and interoperability, and others under the auspices of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The development was supported by the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology Foundation, The MITRE Corporation, and the Oncology Center of Excellence of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

    These team members have formed the mCODE Executive Committee, consisting of a small, agile group of five to seven public and private entities. They have voluntarily come together to further mCODE adoption.

    Who will maintain mCODE?

    The mCODE Executive Committee will continue to oversee the development and maintenance of the official mCODE for various use cases.  However, as an open source concept made available under Creative Commons 0, the vision is that users will adopt, adapt, and improve on the versions of mCODE released by the Executive Committee in order to drive implementation of the mCODE standard and improve the quality and consistency of cancer data across platforms and use cases.

    How is mCODE different?

    We believe that the intersection of available technology and collaboration across stakeholders will make a difference for health data interoperability. Twenty years ago, the healthcare industry began developing interoperability standards to improve healthcare information exchange. However, the lack of data consistency was not acknowledged as a problem at the time. This has led to exchange standards that are purposefully left extremely flexible, allowing enough freedom to model the information in virtually any EHR system, but without a mechanism to harmonize differences across systems.

    Because of the great variety of the data models of EMR/EHR systems, transferring information from one health IT system to another frequently results in the distortion or loss of information, blocking of critical details, or introduction of erroneous data. In addition to capturing too much information as free text, today’s health IT systems contain semantically incompatible information. This prevents practitioners and others from accessing relevant information across a patient’s journey, which in turn affects quality of care.

    The approach of mCODE is to standardize the health record and health data itself, rather than focusing on exchange standards. mCODE seeks to identify which data elements, at a minimum, should be present in every medical record to enable quality of care, and how those elements should be recorded. When the health record and data are standardized, exchange and aggregation of patient information should become cost effective and routine (as in every other industry that has gone digital).

    What will help mCODE succeed?

    The mCODE community recognizes that achieving consistency in healthcare data is a difficult problem to solve and is impossible without consensus across stakeholder groups. That’s why we’ve been working since the start of our initiative to engage with healthcare thought leaders and healthcare alliances, medical associations, standards organizations, providers, and vendor consortia.

    We’re also building on existing standards. For example, the ONC Common Clinical Data Set, which mandates several types of information be exchanged during transitions of care, is a natural building block for mCODE.  Other existing data models—such as the Federal Health Information Model, the OMOP Common Data Model, the Observational Health Data Sciences and Informatics “Common Data Model,” and FHIR resources—have provided important and valuable inputs.

    How can I get involved?

    There are many ways to get involved, from just sharing your ideas to joining the mCODE Council. Reach out to us at mcode-info@asco.org.

    The mCODE Executive Committee has created the mCODE Council to help guide the evolution of mCODE. This is a standing group that provides thought leadership for mCODE, advises the Executive Committee, sponsors use cases, and promotes mCODE adoption. The Council provides input regarding new and amended data elements and use cases for the mCODE core data specification and its extensions. Individual Council members may participate in implementation pilots.

    If your organization is interested in being considered for membership in the Council, please submit your application online.

    How can I use mCODE?

    mCODE is made available pursuant to the Creative Commons 0. Please go to the homepage and see the section for accessing the mCODE model and implementation information. We’d like users to register so we can notify you of updates and request feedback on your experience with mCODE.

    Every Patient's Journey Can Improve All Future Care

    Interested in joining the mCODE Council? Submit your application online.

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    mCODE™ is a trademark of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

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