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#Data4Good: Treating cancer, one patient at a time
By Kelly LeVoyer, Editorial Director, SAS
When Susan Weidner joined IntrinsiQ, a clinical information provider for medical oncology, it was more than just a new job. It was a calling to help cancer patients – patients like she once was – live their best lives during and after their treatment. As a breast cancer survivor, Weidner understood all too well the complexities of the research and treatment choices available to physicians. And as a highly trained data analyst, she also understood that information – if complete and consumable -- was vital to making confident decisions.
At the time that Weidner was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer, she had an advantage: she had been working as a statistician in the oncology field, and knew where to find the latest research. She felt empowered enough to question her oncologists about her treatment regimen, challenging the need for follow-up radiation treatment after surgery. Her physicians, sharing the data and Weidner’s own risk profile, convinced her that the extra prevention was worth the difficult side effects of the radiation. She’s been cancer-free for six years.
We all have someone who has been touched by cancer. We know every day whatever we do to help is a day that was worth every challenge we’ve had.
Senior Vice President
IntrinsiQ Specialty Solutions
Now, as Senior Vice President of IntrinsiQ Specialty Solutions, a major provider of US oncology data and analytics, she’s devoted her career to helping oncologists identify treatment approaches based on massive amounts of research, and tailored to an individual patient’s situation.
IntrinsiQ specifically services independent oncologists, who typically don’t have clinical researchers on staff. “We’re bringing clinical and financial analysis tools to these physicians so they can compare treatment approaches and results across the nation,” Weidner says. “By disease, stage of disease, and line of therapy, we can show community-based oncologists what the most commonly used therapies are and how their practice is treating that condition compared to the rest of the country.
“We aren’t focused solely on the clinical outcome, but on the patient’s experience during treatment,” Weidner says. “For example, taxane-based drugs used for breast cancer treatment carry the risk of peripheral neuropathy, or numbness in the fingers or toes. That might be ok for most patients, but some won’t recover from that side effect. If you’re a mom with a new baby, or a concert pianist, you might not want to risk the inability to use your hands like you did before. Those are things that need to be considered at the time they’re going through care.”
In addition to getting the right information to physicians, IntrinsiQ also leverages the intelligence generated using tools like SAS to help physicians gain access to the network of drug manufacturers, health insurers, and the treatments that they’ve determined their patients need. “It can’t just be about what treatments or drugs drive profit – it needs to be about what’s right for the patient. It’s about helping physicians determine the right treatment for each patient, and helping patients get access to the right drug or therapy.”
After a long and successful career in the pharmaceutical and biomedical fields, Weidner is happy to be in a role that uses data to empower physicians to deliver the best possible care. “This job is personal to the whole team, not just to me,” Weidner says. “We all have someone who has been touched by cancer. We know every day whatever we do to help is a day that was worth every challenge we’ve had.”
- Read other SAS Data4Good stories:
- Learn more about Susan Weidner's career in analytics