Shorter wait times. Earlier detection of cancerous cells. The ability to monitor thousands of bits of clinical data in real time.

Those were just some of the promises made yesterday by doctors from both Nova Scotia and Newfoundland as the two provinces partnered up to create a customized, shared database that will track women as they move through breast cancer screening and diagnosis.

Dr. Jennifer Payne, who works in Dalhousie University’s Department of Diagnostic Radiology, described the database as “a goldmine” for doctors and researchers battling the deadly disease.

“We’re able to watch, in real time, how the (cancer screening) program is operating and respond quickly to areas of concern or opportunities for improvement,” Payne told a crowd gathered for yesterday’s announcement in Halifax.

The database will be updated automatically with information about individual patients, test results, treatment decisions, and other important data, Payne said afterward.

“No one’s working with papers or charts, trying to put all the pieces of the puzzle together ... they’re all in one place,” she explained.

“When you can do that, you can start to understand not just the care of an individual woman, but what is happening at the provincial level — both here and in Newfoundland.”

Those spearheading the project, which was funded by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF), say they hope it will eventually be able to generate reminder notices for patients to book their regular mammograms, send updates on a woman’s progress to her family doctor, and help officials to better allocate resources such as mobile breast screening clinics.

“When we funded this project four years ago, we were fascinated by its potential,” said Nancy Margeson, CEO of the CBCF’s Atlantic division in a release. “With two provinces now agreeing to share in the effort, our investment in the region has already doubled.”