Albuquerque-based data analytics firm RS21 is building a state-of-the-art, integrated informatics system and data warehouse for the University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center under an $8 million contract announced this week.
The three-year contract, which RS21 won in a competitive bidding process, will culminate in one of the most-advanced data systems for cancer research, diagnostics and treatment in the nation, said company president and CEO Charles Rath.
“It’s a massive, multi-year project with applications for UNM’s cancer center, and likely other cancer centers across the country,” Rath told the Journal. “… It’s a huge, legacy-making opportunity for both the cancer center and RS21”
The informatics platform will be built on a data-warehouse foundation that centralizes disparate information sources, including patient-level data, population health, geographic and demographic details, clinical research, and socioeconomic and billing data. Information will be immediately accessible for researchers and clinical staff through a user-friendly visual dashboard that allows medical professionals to collate an immense amount of data in ways that are difficult now because it’s spread across many places with little, if any, integration.
“Researchers use data to drive studies, but it’s in silos,” Rath said. “The informatics system will let users combine data, for example, on tumor size and type with patient specifications, overlaid with data on the patient’s environment. With today’s advances in high-performance computing and data warehousing, we can now integrate it all to begin to understand the broad interconnection and overlay of everything.”
That can offer much faster, precise analytics for healthcare decisions and research. It will also support targeted outreach for preventive medicine, said Dr. Cheryl Willman, the cancer center’s former director and CEO, who has pursued the informatics project for more than three years.
“(It) will enable physicians and scientists at UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center to acquire, harmonize, and integrate siloed cancer clinical, research, and population datasets into a highly-performing data warehouse and a sophisticated population health research platform,” Willman said in a statement. “The system will become an integral component in providing state-of-the-art cancer diagnosis and treatment.”
RS21, which launched in 2014, specializes in packaging mounds of information into user-friendly dashboards with maps, graphics and point-and-click tools that help decision-makers quickly understand the roots causes of issues and take speedy action on things. It’s headquartered in Downtown Albuquerque and currently employs about 80 people.
Rath expects company revenue to surpass $10 million this year, up from about $7 million in 2020.
The informatics project could help create a lot more jobs at both RS21 and UNM.
“As it grows and we add new applications to the system, it could ultimately create hundreds of jobs for RS21, and for people associated with the cancer center,” Rath said.