Certified Tumor Registrar Shortage – Fill the Gap

By Laurie Thor, Vice President and General Manager, Oncology Data Management Services, RHIA, CTR | Posted: 01/24/2018

The Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR) workforce shortage is leaving many health organizations with unfilled positions and backlogs in their cancer surveillance reporting. The role of a cancer registrar is critical to collecting data for cancer treatment planning, research and clinical trials. Worldwide, the number of CTR professionals is limited and not growing quickly enough to support required cancer surveillance reporting.

Stymied growth in the CTR profession can be attributed to an aging population of existing CTRs. Retirement of existing professionals translates into more people retiring than entering the profession. Another shortage factor is tougher requirements of becoming a CTR. For example, candidates must now have earned at least an associate degree.

Some organizations report that their staffing levels are adequate but need assistance with mentoring and ongoing training for their CTRs, while other organizations find their program needs guidance to attain or retain CoC accreditation. The combination of challenges, coupled with the new cancer surveillance reporting requirements for 2018, are adding a new layer of complexity for health care organizations to manage.

What Do We Do Right Now About the Shortage?

So how do overburdened and understaffed cancer programs meet growing registry demands and help in the fight against disease? Outsourcing the job to a proven partner with a range of services can enable organizations to clean up the backlog, and compile and safeguard the data of millions of cancer patients.

Consider outsourcing to:

  1. Improve quality: Focus on data quality to provide comprehensive reporting for cancer center leadership and task medical staff with monitoring treatment methods, outcomes and improving operations.
  2. Map and standardize a workflow: Implement workflow design to ensure timely data collection and submission to state, Federal and accrediting agencies to avoid backlogs.
  3. Benchmark the best: Establish performance productivity and quality levels and set reliable cancer registry database standards to expand and improve reporting capabilities.
  4. Sustain your status: Maintain compliance with CoC, State, NAACCR and SEER standards.
  5. Banish bottlenecks:Provide timely, flexible, complete and accurate cancer registry data collection services to avoid backlogs.

Partnership with a cancer registry provider ensures that all facets of the cancer registry program are compliant with standard setters and contribute toward successfully compiling and safeguarding the data of millions of cancer patients.

For more information about nThrive Oncology Data Management and Cancer Registry Services, please click here.

Laurie S. Thor, RHIA, CTR

Vice President and General Manager, Oncology Data Management Services

Laurie Thor offers more than 30 years of leadership experience in the health information industry. In her role, Thor oversees and is responsible for all aspects of the Oncology Data Management and Cancer Registry Service Line at nThrive.

Earlier in her career, Thor was vice president of product management for an HIM-focused company where she integrated and managed a suite of HIM software products. Previously, she was a health care consultant for PriceWaterhouseCoopers and served as Director of Health Information Management for several health care organizations.

Thor holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Records administration from the University of Pittsburgh.  She also served as an adjunct professor at Ocean County College for the Health Information Management program and participates on National Committees for AHIMA and NCRA, is an active RHIA and became a Certified Tumor Registrar in 2010.