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Strategies for Keeping Follow-Up Rates Compliant
Follow up Blog

By Jill Brown and Jennifer Pols, Cancer Registry Support Specialists

Follow-ups are an essential part of every certified tumor registrar’s (CTR) job. They provide current patient survival information, treatment outcomes and documentation regarding disease status. This data is used to help determine treatment and prognosis information for each type of cancer and assists the oncology team in pinpointing the most effective treatment plan for each patient.

The Commission on Cancer’s (COC) standard follow-up compliance rate is 80% for patients diagnosed from the reference year, and 90% for patients diagnosed in the last 5 years. To meet this standard, there are certain tips we at CHAMPS Oncology use to keep our facilities compliant. Here’s a rundown:

Tips for follow-up rates compliance:

  • Utilize all resources to find current follow-up dates for patients on lists (electronic medical records, contact physicians who share care, obituaries).
    • In the EMR, check thoroughly through all sections for a “good” date.
      • Check EMR for any new follow-up plans, new doctors mentioned.
    • Send follow-up letters (patient update forms) to physicians who share the care of the patient, if you are unable to get a good date from EMR. Be sure to call the office first to confirm the fax number if you’ve never e-faxed the physician before.
      • Keep a detailed list of physicians faxed and their contact details so you can easily access info when it’s time to send the patient update form. Consistently add, change or delete physician info as necessary. 
    • Search for obituaries using Legacy.com, Tributes.com, newspapers and other sources.
      • Search obits by patient’s name in quotes, followed by another piece of info (birth year, the town of residence, etc.).
      • Search obits using the patient’s preferred first name, if the legal name is not found.
      • Look through obituaries to see if the patient is listed as a family member of the deceased  check demographic and family info to verify you have the correct person.
    • Review the list of deceased persons from the state for a possible patient match.
    • Allow up to one hour a day to work on the lost to follow-up (LTFU) list.
      • Separate the LTFU list into two groups (this enables you to focus on a specific follow-up standard):
        • All–year (patients diagnosed from the reference year to six years before the current year).
        • Five-year (patients diagnosed within the last five years).
      • Run F/U report often to know where your numbers are.

Ensuring that follow-up is done for each patient in the cancer registry will not only continue to keep our facilities in compliance with the CoC, but it will also contribute to the information that is so vital in the fight against cancer. Being consistent and accurate is of utmost importance. Remember, better data saves lives!

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