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Method to keep track of cancer comorbidities is successful; may help cancer research

tal illness or AIDS), and often are written with the intent of maximizing reimbursement rather than capturing the most severe comorbidities.

"The COC based their approach on the theory that training registrars on a new coding system is time-consuming and impractical," Piccirillo explains. "But we've taken one example of a new method and we've studied it, we've documented it and we've published it: Cancer registrars can learn comorbidity coding."

Having improved and refined their training protocol during the first several years of its use, the Comorbidity Education Program takes 10 hours to learn. The team currently is finalizing a web-based training program based on their experiences with in-person training seminars. In fact, the National Health Service in London is planning to incorporate this program into its current cancer registry system throughout the United Kingdom.

The program also will be used in the five-year Cancer Care Outcomes Research and Surveillance Consortium (CanCORS) project, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. This project will enroll 10,000 patients with newly diagnosed lung or colorectal cancers and address how characteristics of patients, providers and the systems delivering care affect what services patients receive for the management of cancer and its consequences.

In addition to training other cancer centers about their program, Piccirillo's team now is working on developing mathematical models that identify important comorbidity elements in elderly cancer patients. Such models may provide a more comprehensive and informative way to determine prognosis for individual elderly cancer patients.


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Contact: Gila Z. Reckess
reckessg@wustl.edu
314-286-0109
Washington University School of Medicine
16-Sep-2003


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