Improving Health Through Medical Physics


David Followill, PhD | Houston, TX

AAPM Newsletter — Volume 43 No. 4 — July | August 2018

Imaging and Radiation Oncology Core Houston's (IROC-H) Automated Process for Issuing Credentialing Letters

The IROC-H QA Center is funded to provide radiation oncology core support and quality audit programs for the National Cancer Institute's (NCI's) clinical trials. These programs include an independent peer review of dosimetry practices at participating institutions that include credentialling for specific trials. IROC-Houston issues credentialing letters for approximately 75 different NCI NCTN clinical trials. The process for credentialing begins with a Credentialing Status Inquiry (CSI) form, which is filled out by a site wanting to be credentialed for a specific protocol. IROC-Houston checks the requirements stated by the protocol and if all are met, the site is issued a credentialing letter. Utilizing Matlab, the new automation software does the above work in less than a second. It uses the site's RTF number to retrieve relevant phantom, Facility Questionnaire, contact and benchmarks and IGRT credentialing information pertaining to protocol. The old timeframe from CSI receipt to letter generation allowed up to seven business days for the official letter to be sent.

Figure 1. An example of a new credentialing letter Figure 1. An example of a new credentialing letter

The automated program organizes information required to issue a credentialing letter and print out a template for the letter to help reduce overall time devoted to credentialing. The new process cuts the time down to two business days from the allowed seven days and simplifies the format of the credentialing letter as seen in Figure 1. In 2016, we received 2,510 CSI forms and issued 2,148 credentialing letters. This new program has been utilized since the beginning of 2017 and in that year we received 2,931 CSI forms and issued 2,446 credentialing letters. The automated process of gathering information to check requirements and creating the credentialing letter is accomplished four times faster relative to the old method. Based on 2016 numbers, this could save approximately 750 man-hours per year of processing CSI forms and generating letters allowing for other activities to be accomplished. With the increasing demand for credentialing, IROC Houston's new automated system has significantly reduced the time required to process CSI forms and issue credentialing letters to a site. It is expected that in 2018, these credentials will be electronically uploaded into CTSU's Regulatory Support System (RSS) from IROC Houston's database negating the need for each institution to upload the letters.

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