Standardizing surgical cancer reporting can improve care

Integrating clinical guidelines and standards helps save time, money and improve patient care

An evaluation of an electronic reporting system for surgeries related to seven types of cancer shows using a standardized electronic template for collecting surgical information can save time and money and help improve outcomes for patients.

Selected centres in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia participated in the pilot implementation and evaluation of electronic synoptic surgical reporting. The standards for electronic synoptic surgical reporting were developed by surgeons, representing all Canadian jurisdictions.

Electronic synoptic surgical reporting is transforming cancer care by capturing the information needed to assess the effectiveness of surgery — Dr. Heather Bryant, Vice President of Cancer Control at the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer

Traditionally, surgeons narrate the process and outcomes of operations involving, for example, removal of tumours or to explore the extent of tumour metastasis. Electronic synoptic surgical reporting captures standardized information discretely at the point of care and transmits the report to other healthcare personnel efficiently.

Using electronic synoptic surgical reporting, discharge summaries in 75% of the cases were generated in less than two days, compared to 15% of narrative discharge summaries.

Advantages of synoptic reporting

In the evaluation survey, a majority (> 65%) of surgeons said that electronic synoptic surgical reporting was superior to narrative reports. For example, the standardized capture of clinical information helped:

  • improve and make effective decisions about patient care
  • provide comprehensive discharge summarizes
  • expedite clinical decision-making and improves patient safety

“This evaluation helps build the case for the use of synoptic reporting,” said Jennifer Zelmer, Executive Vice President, Canada Health Infoway. “This provides evidence to cancer surgeons that it can save time and help improve patient care, which is vital to securing greater uptake in the use of standardized templates.”

Surgeons can use the captured information to assess adherence to clinical evidence and safety procedures and assess the delivery of quality of care and patient outcomes. Hospital administrators, meanwhile, can use the information to inform program initiatives for quality improvement and system level planning.

Patients benefit because health-care providers have access to comprehensive information to enable timely clinical decision-making and improve patient safety.

“Expansion of electronic synoptic surgical reporting is critical to modernizing the delivery of cancer care because it embeds evidence at the point of care seamlessly. Ensuring that surgeons across the country are collecting data via standardized methods will help gather data that can be more easily analyzed and compared,” said Dr. Richard Nason, Synoptic Surgery Reporting Initiative Manitoba Provincial Clinical Lead.

To build on the success of the electronic synoptic surgical reporting initiative, the Partnership is working with a number of jurisdictions and clinicians to further demonstrate the value of electronic synoptic surgical reporting. Initiatives are underway to demonstrate clinical outcomes reporting across various provinces.

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