Registries are becoming increasingly important in healthcare because of the insights and benefits they offer medical providers and their patients. These large data repositories help providers understand how clinical treatments are related to outcomes, make evidence-based decisions, deliver better care to patients and earn financial incentives.
Registries also give hospitals a way to benchmark their quality metrics and measure their efforts against industry standards. While there are numerous reasons for healthcare providers to participate in registries, the process of doing so is not always easy. Abstracting data to report to registries is particularly challenging, in part because it is labor intensive and reporting guidelines change frequently.
When registries make changes to their manuals it can lead to headaches for hospital teams that need to accurately abstract data for reporting. Registry changes are easy to miss. Quality teams should monitor the following resources so they can stay up-to-date on guidelines and reporting requirements:
Registry Home Page
Registries generally post important announcements and updates on their home page. Routinely checking a registry’s home page for news and updates is a good way to find timely information about abstraction guidelines and changes.
Another place registries commonly share updates is in the FAQ section of their site. This is a prime spot for teams to check for info about what data registries collect, how to participate in a registry, processes for entering data, and more. Registries sometimes send email notifications when they update their FAQs.
Speaking of emails, registries send a lot of emails and the volume of messages can be overwhelming at times. It can be tempting to ignore registry emails, but doing so almost guarantees that valuable updates will slip by unnoticed. Everyone that performs abstraction within an organization should be on the list to receive registry emails. Forwarding emails and sharing key takeaways is encouraged so that abstraction knowledge is not the responsibility of just one person, it is shared by the entire abstraction team.
Nearly every registry sends out a newsletter on a regular basis. Announcements and registry changes are typically included in registry newsletters – so reading them is a must for abstractors.
Most registries hold monthly calls to share news and go over important abstraction details. Whenever possible, abstractors should participate in those calls. While scheduling conflicts can make it difficult for abstractors to join calls, it is worthwhile to prioritize them. Teams should work to ensure at least one staff member is available to join the call each month. Even if only one person attends, they can share the most important details with the rest of the team. Calls are rarely recorded, and although meeting minutes are sometimes available, they don’t always capture the most critical information.
Attending conferences is arguably the best way to learn about registry news and updates. Nearly every registry has an annual (or semi-annual) conference. Typically, registry participants are offered free admission to conferences.
Tracking these sources is essential for learning about registry news, however, it is also laborious. Registries are extremely complex. Teams that do not have the bandwidth to monitor these various information channels – in order to ensure they have the information they need to avoid costly mistakes – should consider working with an external abstraction partner. While it is difficult for a single person or a small team at a hospital to track registry changes, an abstraction company that is well-versed in registry guidelines can easily monitor registry changes – and ultimately be the eyes and ears healthcare teams need.
The benefits of outsourcing registry abstraction exceed guideline updates. Outsourcing gives time-strapped teams the extra resources they need to get through charts before they pile up. Teams can avoid backlogs and even have extra hours to work on other high-priority quality improvement work when they do not have to struggle with registry abstraction on their own. For many teams, outsourcing abstraction is a smart choice.
Healthcare registries are becoming increasingly important for hospitals and their patients. Registry participants have a responsibility to be informed and follow current guidelines outlined in registry manuals. Providers must be diligent about following changes so they can meet registry requirements and contribute to the quality of healthcare registries. While some quality teams may be able to manage abstraction work effectively inhouse, other teams are more successful when they tap into outside help to tackle registry abstraction.
Richard A. Royer has served as the chief executive officer of Primaris since 2001. He has extensive administrative healthcare experience and is actively involved in several statewide healthcare initiatives. In 2006 he was appointed by the Missouri governor to the Missouri Healthcare Information Technology Task Force and chaired the resources workgroup. He also serves on the board of directors as treasurer for the Excellence in Missouri Foundation. In his over 35 years of medical business experience he has held positions as chief executive officer at Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, General Hospital; executive director of Columbia Regional Hospital in Missouri; and founder and president of Avalon Enterprises, a medical financial consulting firm.