Using Cancer Data to Market Your Cancer Program

and Raise Community Awareness

Q & A Transcript

Q – We don’t use registry data because we believe it is not current for most of these use-cases. Do you hear that from others? How do other institutions overcome this issue?

A – Yes … it’s true that the cancer registry has typically been delayed in their abstracting and data submissions. However, this has been changing in recent years. Along with the introduction of affordable automated interfaces from EMR and Pathology systems as well as the recent changes requiring monthly quality reporting the landscape is changing. Some of our customers have been at the forefront of driving this change and have the ROI to support the investments – which in turn address the data latency issue.

Q – You mentioned required data and supplemental data. Is there a way that we can add our own supplemental data to track our program’s specific initiatives?

A – In our solution, CRStar, these supplemental data items are part of the abstract and, as I mentioned, we have screens to collect data for COC, NAPBC and NAPRC standards. These fields encompass all the standards. However, if additional data items are needed, we have user defined fields on these screens that can be customized by the user. As far as other vendors, I am not sure if they offer what we do, but all vendors have user defined fields.

Q – Is there a way to compare our data and our community needs to state or regional level data?

A – Yes, all of the required data collected by your hospital’s cancer registry and all other hospital registries in your state gets submitted to the state’s Central Registry, so the data is compiled at the state level.  Your hospital’s registry staff should have a contact at the Central Registry that could help you find the comparison data you need. 

Q – We have a robust Community Outreach program, but at survey we were advised that we needed to document the results of our efforts better. Is that something that can be done in the Cancer Registry?? 

A – On our COC screen, there are free text fields or customizable user defined fields that could be used for this. All these fields, including the user defined fields, can be used by themselves or combined with other data from within our reporting module. You would need to keep in mind that collecting outreach data in a cancer registry database would only be relevant for patients that ended up with a diagnosis of cancer, so this would probably involve developing a tracking plan with the Outreach Coordinator and Cancer Committee.

Q – I have received data before from my navigators that was helpful for outreach planning, does the navigator data typically interface with the registry data?

A – I can only speak for our software, but the answer is yes. Interfacing is something we love to help our clients with. We are vendor agnostic, so we can work with any software platform. As I mentioned in a previous answer, we are currently involved in lots of automated interface projects with clients utilizing their EMR, radiation and medical oncology solutions, as well as pathology, tumor boards and navigation solutions. We are even working with a few clients on NLP projects. Automating these processes for our clients is a priority for us. We would love to engage with you about a project like that.

Q – Our cancer center is starting a low dose CT screening program. I asked our registrar if that information could be collected and was told it could not. I believe you showed some reports on that. So it can be tracked?

A – I am not sure what software you use, so I cannot speak to your particular situation. However, in CRStar, we have an accreditation module within our abstract containing three screening fields – one for the screening date, one to track the type of screening (of which the CT is a choice) and then one for screening results. Those three fields can be displayed in reports and combined with other data elements as well such as sex, race, ethnicity, etc. On the same screen, there are also user defined fields that could be specifically set up for these cases to track why a patient did not participate in the screening. There are lots of options.

Q – I am fairly new to my role in the cancer center and we have been utilizing cancer data from the EMR vs the cancer registry and it goes into our data warehouse. Should we be utilizing the cancer registry data instead?

A – I would absolutely use the cancer registry data and make it a part of your data warehouse project to be used in conjunction with the other data sources. We have customers at large university and research centers that rely on the registry data because of the level of detail I discussed. I have worked with a lot of researchers who start with the registry data as the reliable foundation and combine it with other sources. We have automated this process for some of our customers where the data is imported from the cancer registry to the data warehouse on a routine basis. I would suggest definitely meeting with the cancer registry manager to discuss the data that is available and the detail. I think you would be amazed!

Q – I come from a small, rural community hospital and we are not COC approved. However, we are the only hospital within a couple of hours, and we do sponsor some community outreach activities, but feel we can do more. We have a very small cancer registry and they just report data to the state and not the NCDB. Would the cancer registrar still be able to pull some of these reports?

A – They still collect the demographic and cancer profile information, so yes. If they use the state free data collection software, the reports available are somewhat limited compared to a commercial software vendor. We offer a version of CRStar for state reporting so hospitals such as yours can maintain their state reporting requirements, but also have access to our powerful reporting module. But even with the free software, they should be able to obtain basic data, but not in the formats that I showed. You should still be able to get comparative data from the state as I mentioned.

Q – You mentioned using an interface with few sources to help with data collection. We use Epic. Can you interface with it and what kind of data can you get from it?

A – Absolutely! We have a lot of customers that use Epic. We import data from their standard disease index for casefinding which includes all the demographic information and a few diagnostic fields. In addition we can add data from Epic’s Beacon medical oncology product that includes a lot more diagnostic information such as laterality, grade, tumor size, staging, physician information and some treatment. We also can interface data into CRStar from Epics’s Beaker pathology solution. This includes all the demographics plus either the final path diagnosis or the entire path report if desired. And we can automate these processes for our customers, which drives concurrency in abstracting and data submissions. These interfaces are really affordable and our customers quickly see the ROI. We are vendor agnostic and work with our customers with a variety of different solutions.

Q – I am over both the cancer registry and the navigation departments. Do you have any navigators that use your software?

A – Actually, we have quite a few clients that give navigators access to the software. Many times, the navigator will enter the information on the accreditation screen I mentioned for COC and NAPBC. Some of them also have access to run their own reports that help them identify cases for navigation enrollment. This also allows them access to our built in SCP that they can generate themselves. This would be something to discuss with both your registry manager and the navigators.

Q – I know your example is for lung cancer and Low dose CT screening programs, but can this tracking be done with other sites and other types of screenings?

A – Yes it can. In our software application, CRStar, we have three screening fields: screening date, screening type and results. The screening type has a list of choices from Colonoscopy, PSA screening, PAP smears, mammograms and others. These data elements can be paired with other variables, especially cancer type for tracking purposes. We also have extra user defined fields that can be customized for other tracking related to screenings. If you do not use our product, you would need to discuss this with your cancer registry. But they would at least be able to set up user defined fields for this purpose.

Q – What community activities have you seen that have been effective during COVID precautions?

A – COVID has affected almost all activities, screening efforts and even treatment. We encouraged our clients back in March of 2020 to start collecting information on COVID cases relating to delays. And then, the COC added these fields as required fields to be collected on cases diagnosed in 2020-2021.

A year ago, we observed through our clients that facilities were themselves delaying some screenings and diagnostic testing to those not of extreme risk. Even delaying treatment on some patients that healthcare providers felt could wait with no dire circumstance. As time has gone by, restrictions have been eased and things are going back to normal.

Outreach activities like I discussed were definitely put on hold at first due to restrictions in crowd size, but we are seeing a trend in those being increased again, but always being extremely cognizant of social distancing guidelines. I think we will see these on the rise in the coming warmer months as well, where most of these activities can be held outside.

We are observing that with the curve flattening, and in some cases decreasing, coupled now with access to vaccines, patients are not as hesitant to seek out or delay their care.

Schedule a Dialogue with Melanie Rogan

Please join Melanie Rogan, CTR, Director, Registry Services, for a one-on-one call to learn more about proven ways cancer registry data can help grow your oncology program. And learn more about what our software solution, CRStar can offer your cancer program.