Patient follow-up is performed by hospital-based and many population-based registries. Although these registries may use different methods and different sources, many of the procedures involved in following patients in their registries are similar. The follow-up process can promote optimal patient care and provide a valuable record of patient outcomes.
The primary purposes of follow-up are to ensure continued medical surveillance to determine outcomes of the treatment, and to monitor the health status of the population under investigation. Follow-up information provides the documentation of residual disease or its spread, recurrences, or additional malignancies. Subsequent treatment is included in the cancer registry database although it should be noted the data is based on information in the medical record or available from external contacts.
Outcome and end-results data enable researchers, physicians, and others to assess clinical standards, quality of care, and to potentially predict patient survival. Follow-up information must be comprehensive. To produce survival data, successful follow-up must be maintained. These factors necessitate an organized system of long-term surveillance.
SOURCES and METHODS
For patients returning to UPMC-based facilities for their cancer management care, UPMC Network Cancer Registry staff will obtain required information from UPMC medical record sources equivalent to those listed under the abstracting functions. The process of obtaining this information is both automated through electronic matching and importing of data files as well as manually obtained to ensure the data collected is complete and accurate.
Patients who have elected to receive all or part of their care outside of UPMC or are considered cancer survivors and may not be actively under medical surveillance are still followed by the UPMC Network Cancer Registry. Methods used to obtain current vital status and cancer status information on these patients include but are not limited to the following:
- Letters to external physicians and facilities involved with the patient’s care
- Phone Calls to external physicians and facilities involved with the patient’s care
- Social Security Death Index
- State-based Departments of Vital Statistics