Dr. Halden Ford, dermatologist with Paducah Dermatology, demonstrates the use of the practice's exam room computers in June, which have been upgraded to meet guidelines outlined for electronic health records implementation. Paducah Dermatology was recognized as the first practice in the state to electronically report new cancer diagnoses to the Kentucky Cancer Registry in October.
Often highlighted among the top cancer incidence rates in the nation, Kentucky bolstered its efforts at tracking the disease through the creation of the nation’s first working model of electronic record reporting of cancer cases to the state’s cancer registry.
The state’s landmark model was officially operational Oct. 19, when Paducah Dermatology submitted the first electronic health reports on five newly diagnosed cancer cases to the Kentucky Cancer Registry.
Since then, the practice has successfully submitted 10 additional reports, said Robin Stamper, practice manager at Paducah Dermatology and Infectious Disease Associates.
“The cancer registry has been very proactive in this project,” Stamper said. “The state has been working very hard to be one of the leaders in the nation as far as health services to provide this service.
“For us to be the first successful transmission, we know it’s possible, we know it works and we know the registry can track this information straight from our electronic medical records.”
The electronic health records reporting model is designed to provide oncologists and health care providers across the state a fast and effective method for submitting confidential clinical data on local cancer cases to the state’s registry.
Practices were required to submit data to the cancer registry twice yearly, Stamper said, but the digital model allows practices to provide real-time data with each electronic health record filed.
The electronic health data includes patient background information like occupation, age, smoking status and cancer results.
As physicians monitor positive cancer cases, the practice will forward along the report to epidemiologists at the registry to help researchers discern trends in cancer statistics as they develop.
Thomas Tucker, director of the cancer registry, said most states report health data electronically but the sorting of that data can present issues that delay statistics by several years. The standards and methods for electronic health records reporting to the registry have made Kentucky one of the fastest reporting states.
“Things don’t change really quickly with these disease, so it’s not particularly a big problem, but if you want to look at treatment patterns, for example, you do want that data much more quickly,” Tucker said.
Paducah Dermatology was the pilot practice for the cancer reporting project. The program was a collaboration of efforts between the practice, the cancer registry, the Kentucky Health Information Exchange, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Kentucky Regional Extension Center and Ulrich Medical Concepts in Paducah, that developed the practice’s system.
Currently the cancer registry, KREC and KHIE partner with 43 additional cancer care centers across the state to establish electronic health records reporting to the registry.
“This project is laying the groundwork for electronic reporting not only in Kentucky but across the United States,” said Eric Durbin, director of Cancer Informatics at the cancer registry, in a news release from the University of Kentucky.
Paducah Dermatology met Meaningful Use Stage 1 requirements — proven application of electronic health records — after completing a series of digital medical upgrades to the practice’s records that included functions like electronic prescribing or digital filing of patients’ medical histories.
As of Jan. 1, 2014, physician’s electronic health records reporting to cancer registries becomes part of the next stage of meaningful use requirements.
Dr. Halden H. Ford said he was honored that his office played an important role in advancing medical information technology forward. The certifications mean added assurance for patients that health care professionals across the state can provide valuable cancer data to researchers in a safe and efficient manner that will ultimately help track cancer incidence.
“For a patient, if they’re diagnosed not only does it help for their follow-up, but it helps the state to put together a bigger picture of correlations,” Stamper said.
Call Will Pinkston, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8676.