Every few years, I am asked to do a presentation on text fields to one group of registrars or another. We see these programs offered over and over again. Why do we have to continue to provide primary education, updated information, and continued training on text fields for registrars? Because text fields are important.
Text fields are time-intensive, and we often fall into the trap of short-cutting text to shorten abstracting time, increase productivity, and give our aching fingers a break. Additionally, each facility may have its own twist on text and, as registrars change jobs, they may take these preferences along to their new facility as well. Not only do Olympic gymnasts get the “twisties,” cancer registrars can as well!
Here are the main reasons text fields are so important for cancer registries:
- North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR) has set standards for text which are also accepted by the National Program of Central Registries (NPCR). State and central registries receiving funding through NPCR must also abide by these standards.
- Using NAACCR and NPCR standards provides consistency on text fields across all reporting registries.
- Using standards allows for decreased variability in test reporting.
- Using standards increases the quality of not only text fields but also of all coded fields.
- Increased quality leads to increased satisfaction amongst your customers, whether the customers are your facility administration, your cancer committee, and medical staff, your state registries, or facilities that you may contract with to provide cancer registry services.
- Strong text fields allow for case consolidators at the central, state, or federal registries to consolidate cases more appropriately and quickly, without having to request additional information from your registry. Strong text fields also allow for discrepancies to be resolved without sending edits back to facilities for review and resolution.
Short-cutting your text field reporting ends up costing more time in repeat chart reviews to correct edits, resolve discrepancies and provide additional information to your central, state, or federal registry. Abiding by NAACCR Standards for text field documentation will save time in the long run.