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To Abstract or Not To Abstract? That is Cancer Registry's Biggest Question ... Again

Posted by Gina McNellis, Director of Registry Services on Mar 29, 2018 2:00:00 AM

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Back in 2016, cancer registries were faced with the question of whether or not to abstract given delays in getting new standards released to software vendors and state registries. In 2018, we find ourselves in the same situation and with each tick of the clock, cancer registrars are feeling more and more anxious to receive information from the cancer registry standard setters regarding this year’s changes. But until the new standards are released, no one can complete or submit 2018 cases to state or regional registries.

So, what should cancer registries do – abstract or wait?

Experience has taught us that there are benefits to abstracting 2018 cases now and then completing them once the changes are released:

  1. Waiting to abstract can create significant backlogs. No matter what, registries will be faced with a backlog of 2018 cases. However, waiting to abstract all 2018 cases will cause a backlog that will take longer to clear. If your registry continues to abstract, you’ll only have to make corrections to the cases you have started rather than abstracting from scratch – the backlog will be cleared more quickly and your registry will be current sooner.
  1. Take the opportunity to improve quality assurance. Continuing to abstract puts you one step ahead once it’s time to transmit. You can use the time to your advantage by adding an abstract quality assurance (QA) check before you transmit your 2018 cases. With so many new standards, adding this QA step will ensure your registrars fully understand the standards and give you the chance to provide coaching and education to ensure ongoing quality.
  1. Ensure you have qualified registrars. Once the standards are released and registries can begin transmitting cases, qualified registry resources will be in high demand. Securing those resources now, and putting them to work collecting as much information on your 2018 cases as possible, will ensure you have the team in place to transmit 2018 cases quickly and efficiently.
  1. Start collecting data you know you will need. While the standards are not set, we do know enough to start collecting some data that will need to be added when cases are corrected later this year. Our tip: add additional data to existing text fields so that the registrar will already have the data in the abstract to draw from. For example, the new Site-Specific Data Items (SSDI) can be added to the Laboratory, Remarks, or even Staging text sections.

When the time comes and the software is ready, we expect there will be a huge demand for additional staffing and help. Right now, CTR resources are ready and available. But later, providers may find these already utilized. himagine solutions maintains a team of cancer registry professionals ready to help providers prepare for the 2018 changes by decreasing backlogs, cleaning up data, and getting started on 2018 abstracting.

Now is the time to keep moving forward and not to put off collecting information for your 2018 cases. What has your cancer registry decided to do about the 2018 cases?  I value your input – leave your questions or comments in the field below.

Topics: Cancer Registry