Planning is necessary to ensure that hospital or institution-based registry staffing meets the requirements of the Commission on Cancer (CoC) of the American College of Surgeons, and population-based registries meet the requirements of their funding agencies. Several factors affect registry staffing, including yearly caseload, data usage, longevity of the database, and managerial and administrative responsibilities, computerization, and cancer program functions. Institutions may hire part time or full time staff or consultants to perform registry and/or cancer program functions. The hours of cancer registry operations may vary. However, staff should be available during normal business hours to accommodate study requests from medical research and administrative staff. Staffing hours may also vary in order to facilitate follow-up calls to patients, outside institutions, or physician's offices. Methods for task distribution vary from registry to registry.
The possibility of distributing and sharing responsibilities is greater in larger registries. Some registries delegate specific responsibilities to each staff member, whereas others distribute all responsibilities equally among all staff members. Abstracting responsibilities might be distributed by cancer site or alphabet. For example, a particular staff member may be responsible for abstracting and following all patients with breast cancer whose last names start with the letters A through D, and so on. Varying staff or their responsibilities allows the supervisor to achieve goals while providing staff with the opportunity to expand their knowledge and skills.
Once data collection begins, continuous monitoring is necessary to ensure compliance with CoC and other agencies. For example, abstracting should be initiated between four and six months after diagnosis and the follow-up percentage must be maintained at required rates. When backlogs occur, rearranging responsibilities to meet deadlines may be necessary. The development of productivity standards will assist in maintaining compliance.