Update on the National Cancer Screening Register

IMG elderly man with doctor

An update for General Practitioners on the National Cancer Screening Register

In May 2016 the Department of Health appointed Telstra Health to develop and operate the National Cancer Screening Register (the Register) to support the renewed National Cancer Screening Program and acceleration of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

The Register is expected to manage the cancer screening records for more than 11 million Australians, replacing the existing National Bowel Cancer Screening Program Register and up to eight separate state and territory-based cervical screening registers. 

On 13 October 2016 the National Cancer Screening Register Bills 2016 were passed through the Australian Parliament paving the way for operation of the Register and data migration from the existing cervical and bowel screening registers.

How will the new Register help?

Approximately 4,000 people die from bowel cancer and 250 women die from cervical cancer each year in Australia. Building on Australia’s capacity to screen for and prevent these cancers remains a national priority.

The Register will create a single record for each participant in our national screening programs across the country and will capture screening events regardless of the location in which they occur.

GPs will be able to use their clinical software, such as Medical Director or Best Practice, or an online portal at any time to quickly and easily identify what screening is due or overdue, results requiring further action and historical test results. Your patients will also be able to use the participant portal to update personal information and view when their last screening occurred.  GPs will be able to order FOBT kits using the portal and an Australian-based contact centre will be available for Register support.

The Register will invite participants to undertake an initial screen and provide reminders about follow up screens for participants and their practitioners. This will help ensure participants continue along the screening pathway when their test results are positive. The Register will have the capability to utilise a variety of communication methods including a web portal, email, SMS communication as well as traditional mail correspondence. The form of communication will depend on the type of information that needs to be communicated and your, and your patient’s preference.

The team

The Register team is led by Professor David Ashbridge, a General Practitioner and Health Executive. The team also includes medical practitioners, cancer screening  program experts, health information managers and epidemiologists.

Engagement to date

The Register team has commenced consultation with peak bodies including the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine to ensure the Register is built to meet the needs of GPs. They will continue to liaise with these and other organisations as they develop training for GPs on notifying the Register and information on new technologies that will be available with the Register, such as electronic forms embedded in GP software.

The Register is on track to support the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program from 20 March 2017 and the National Cervical Screening Program from 1 May 2017. This coincides with the introduction of the new MBS items supporting 5-yearly HPV testing and reflex LBC tests.

You can expect more regular correspondence in 2017 in the lead up to these dates.