Toward timely data for cancer research: Assessment and reengineering of the cancer reporting process

Abdulrahman M. Jabour, Brian E. Dixon, Josette F. Jones, David A. Haggstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Cancer registries systematically collect cancer-related data to support cancer surveillance activities. However, cancer data are often unavailable for months to years after diagnosis, limiting its utility. Objective: The objective of this study was to identify the barriers to rapid cancer reporting and identify ways to shorten the turnaround time. Methods: Certified cancer registrars reporting to the Indiana State Department of Health cancer registry participated in a semistructured interview. Registrars were asked to describe the reporting process, estimate the duration of each step, and identify any barriers that may impact the reporting speed. Qualitative data analysis was performed with the intent of generating recommendations for workflow redesign. The existing and redesigned workflows were simulated for comparison. Results: Barriers to rapid reporting included access to medical records from multiple facilities and the waiting period from diagnosis to treatment. The redesigned workflow focused on facilitating data sharing between registrars and applying a more efficient queuing technique while registrars await the delivery of treatment. The simulation results demonstrated that our recommendations to reduce the waiting period and share information could potentially improve the average reporting speed by 87 days. Conclusions: Knowing the time elapsing at each step within the reporting process helps in prioritizing the needs and estimating the impact of future interventions. Where some previous studies focused on automating some of the cancer reporting activities, we anticipate much shorter reporting by leveraging health information technologies to target this waiting period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere4
JournalJournal of medical Internet research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • Computer simulation
  • Data collection
  • Epidemiological monitoring
  • Neoplasms
  • Registries
  • SEER program
  • Workflow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics

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