I happened to read my horoscope the other day and it said: “Listen to news with an open mind. A new beginning might become possible in the realm of your finances”. I tried to convince my husband that meant we should buy a boat. Sadly, he read the horoscope differently.
However, it did get me thinking about our surveillance community and the collective issues we have been and will continue facing… Decreased funding, ever increasing demands, new technology, new methodology, revised methodology. The list goes on and on. How do we continue to maintain our balance and embrace the future?
Personally, I feel we must approach our registry operations like we manage our respective lives/homes. When there are financial issues at home, we take a hard look at what are the most important things to us and eliminate or reduce the others. When we want something new in our lives, we look at our finances to determine if we can afford it. Often, in order to incorporate the new things, we must completely understand and embrace the ramifications. For instance, if I want a boat, we can only afford to eat three times per week.
I feel operating our registry systems should follow the same basic principles. We must think carefully about what is important to us and we must always refer back to our ‘research/surveillance question’.
Population based research provides the surveillance/research community with answers no other source can provide. However, in order to adapt to the current and immediate future’s financial climate, do we need to rethink our model? For instance, do we need data from every registry for every variable, for every cancer for every year? Could we more appropriately answer some important questions using special surveillance/research studies, drawing samples and utilizing sound statistical methodology? Should we divert funding to develop/refine advanced technology which would allow us to automate a larger portion of our operations? I don’t have the answers to these questions but I do pose them as issues we need to collectively consider.
I am delighted our Sponsoring Members continue working with the NAACCR Board of Directors and through the Steering Committees to help them formulate targeted and specific strategic plans for the immediate and mid-range future in the various areas. The fact that NAACCR is comprised of members from all population-based registries and standard setting organizations, the collective NAACCR membership is a formidable force in cancer surveillance in North America and can make the sound recommendations regardless of the issues or the economic climate.
We are all in this together and we will all get through this together.
Jill A. MacKinnon, PhD, CTR