Twenty nine years and still going strong! When I was finishing up nursing school in 1994, computers were a novelty. I still researched my school papers using the card catalogue and email was just starting to gain popularity. In a small office at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Joel Goldwein was playing around with creating a website to exchange cancer information with other interested physicians. Little did he know, he was planting the seed that would grow into an award-winning site used by millions of patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals.
OncoLink may be the oldest cancer information site on the Internet, but it is anything but “old.” Over the 29 year history, OncoLink’s team has always been willing to dream big and try something out of the box and has had many online “firsts” –
- First website to provide same-day coverage at professional meetings.
- First online IRB-approved consent form.
- First US site translated into Spanish. Sadly, still one of only a few.
- First personalized survivorship care plan program. The OncoLife tool has been used to create over 135,000 survivorship care plans!
- First cancer risk assessment tool encompassing all cancers.
- First online clinical trials matching service (in collaboration with Emerging Med).
- First comprehensive education program for proton therapy providers.
You may not know that OncoLink is run by a full-time staff of just 8 people! We rely on the generosity and commitment of hundreds of volunteer clinicians and survivors who believe in our mission and give of their time and expertise to develop and review content. A BIG thank you to all of them!! It is this group that sets OncoLink apart from other sites. The information is provided by people who work with patients or have been in those shoes. They know what people need at every stage of the cancer journey and provide us with lots of guidance to meet your needs.
In 2018, we were honored to receive the Cancer Patient Education Network’s Excellence in Patient Education Award – an award given by our peers. We have been named one of Healthline’s Best Cancer Blogs for many years and have been recognized by the National Cancer Institute and other cancer organizations for our work. We are very proud of this recognition!
We continue to evolve with the ever-changing electronic world while being true to our mission to support people affected by cancer. Our reach has grown beyond the Internet through our partnerships with electronic medical record companies who have incorporated our teaching materials and tools in their products. We have helped oncology clinics and hospitals, small and large, meet regulatory requirements for survivorship care and patient education through our website and co-branded offerings.
Patient education has changed over our 29-year history. In the early days, our readers were patients and caregivers seeking answers and advice they were not getting from providers. Today, healthcare has a patient focus and education is front and center. Many of our users are now nurses looking for reliable, patient centered teaching materials.
We have come a long way, but we are not resting on our laurels! Our team is always dreaming of the next project – how can we continue to grow and evolve to better meet the needs of patients, caregivers, and providers? How can we make the cancer experience a little easier? By engaging, empowering, and educating!
About the author: Carolyn Vachani is an oncology advanced practice nurse and the Innovation Director at OncoLink. She has worked in many areas of oncology including BMT, clinical research, radiation therapy, and staff development. She serves as the project leader in the development and maintenance of the OncoLife Survivorship Care Plan and has a strong interest in oncology survivorship care. She enjoys discussing just about any cancer topic, as well as gardening, cooking, and, of course, her sons.