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Hessian Cancer Registry: Collaboration across state borders

6 min read


  • As a GDPR-compliant and ISO 27001-certified tool, Stackfield aligns with the Hessian Cancer Registry’s firm philosophy
  • With Stackfield, transparency, and flexibility are given at any point in time – this way, collaborating with other states’ registries is possible without any concerns
  • Projects from previous years stay documented and accessible and help teams plan and organize complex, recurring projects
  • Via the Mobile App employees can quickly react to any news
  • No technical problems, experienced failure safety: The teams enjoy full functionality

About the Hessian Cancer Registry

The Hessian Cancer Registry, functioning as a clinical-epidemiological cancer registry, collects all data related to cancer cases and oncological treatments in Hesse, Germany, and oversees the analysis and provision of the data, particularly for further research. The legal basis for its operation is the Hessian Cancer Registry Act. According to the law, all doctors in Hesse are obligated to transmit relevant treatment information to the cancer registry. Comprising three parts (the Trust Center, the State Evaluation Center, and the Billing Center), the Hessian Cancer Registry is affiliated with two public institutions of the state: the Hessian Medical Association (“Landesärztekammer Hessen”) and the Hessian State Office for Health and Care (“Hessisches Landesamt für Gesundheit und Pflege”).

Without digital help: Non-central information storage and brisk email traffic

Before Stackfield got known at the Hessian Cancer Registry, its teams were trying to achieve a frequent exchange and more insights into other people’s work without any collaboration tool. Employees mostly relied on “long-known possibilities”: conferences, mostly in presence, which were time-intensive and required a lot of planning, and emails through which protocols and other information were sent. Martin Rapp, organizational manager of the Trust Center, remembers: “Not well organized, not well structured, not documented in one single spot.”

Martin Rapp – Organizational Manager at the Hessian Cancer Registry's Trust Center

Particularly in large “inter-disciplinary” teams, however, information must be regularly exchanged and discussed, sometimes at short notice and regardless of location. “Besides medical knowledge, cancer registration requires expertise in statistics, computer science, and data analysis. Effective exchange is important to standardize and harmonize data from different sources before they are available for analysis.”

However, as such bundling of communication did not happen to the expected extent without a digital tool, in 2016/17 the Hessian Cancer Registry decided to seek support for combining the many processes covered by different registry components and centralizing exchange.

“We realized one thing: We need help. We cannot manage collaboration anymore with just words. The most important information is in too many heads and cannot be found anywhere centrally and digitally.”

Real data security and hosting in Germany

Since there were numerous requirements for a tool, the cancer registry designed an extensive requirement catalog upon which the research was to be based. As part of a corporation under public law, the cancer registry's trust center was forced to gather various comparable offers and conduct a selection process. However, Stackfield quickly proved itself to be the winner. Data protection was “a point in itself” and particularly decisive for the company.

“Managing projects and communication – a lot of tools can do that. But one standout aspect on Stackfield’s behalf was data protection. We found out that Stackfield is hosted in Germany, Germany is not exited at any point. In addition, security mechanisms that enable data access and encryption in Stackfield are very well resolved.”

Conveying advantages with the help of power users

Once Stackfield was finally introduced to the company, Martin Rapp concentrated mainly on his team: The team members were to be informed about all plans regarding Stackfield and needed to understand its advantages. “It was important to us not to leave anyone behind during the initial phase.” For this reason, he took advantage of so-called power users, meaning specially trained team members who were intended to work with Stackfield more intensly.

Since they had already been using Wiki Software to document processes and work steps at the registry, Martin Rapp didn’t need to build a structure from scratch. The wiki’s contents were used as a basis and extended by project-specific rooms.

Collaboration across company borders: Subsidiary institutions and other states’ registries

Especially collaboration between individual subsidiary registries revealed itself to be rather cumbersome without Stackfield: There was no shared, digital workspace for shared tasks, a fixed communication channel was missing, and task steps weren’t documented anywhere. Thus, Stackfield solved multiple problems at once, starting with having an interface. Martin Rapp recounts: “We can create a dialogue across company borders: between one registry part affiliated with the Hessian Medical Association and the other two registry parts connected to the Hessian State Office for Health and Care.”

In particular, collaboration with other states’ registries takes more coordination and detailed documentation. For example, numerous other registries use the same tumor documentation system which they further develop and maintain together. Today, all registries can profit from Stackfield: Martin Rapp adds all responsible contacts from other registries with full member rights to the Hessian Cancer Registry’s Stackfield organization and assigns them to specific teams. Afterwards, the teams are added to the corresponding projects/rooms.

To ensure Martin Rapp never loses his overview he structures his sidebar with specifically defined room groups. All his over 100 rooms are sorted into different groups, for example, “External Coordination”. This way, Martin Rapp can navigate to the intended room with just a few clicks.

Staying flexible and documenting complex, recurring projects for the future

Especially with recurring processes, a lot of time can be saved with just a few tricks. Here, Martin Rapp takes advantage of all the information saved on Stackfield.

Each recurring process receives a room. Once a process is completed, the room is archived, thus, hidden from the sidebar, and can be accessed via the “Global Search” at any time. This way, for example, when working on a report the team can check out the previous year's report, gather helpful information, and use it as a basis for the new one. Such recurring processes can be mapped very well in tasks and subtasks. Martin Rapp ensures that he “doesn’t lose the thread and maintains consistency over the year”.

The Mobile App for in-between

Besides the Stackfield Desktop App and Web Version, Martin Rapp is particularly thrilled about the Mobile App. Whether it is chatting with a colleague, checking today’s events, or ticking off a task: The Stackfield Mobile App offers support in the little things.

“I learned to appreciate the Mobile App. To have important information quickly at hand – quite literally – and to react to information in a matter of seconds. The app's range of functions is completely sufficient in many areas.”

Different structures for different rooms: Modules depending on the use case

Depending on the process, most of the time, different functionalities are needed for different use cases. It doesn’t always need the whole package. Too many features can be rather overwhelming and disrupt productive teamwork. For this reason, the Hessian Cancer Registry uses every Stackfield module on a different scale.

“I have become very accustomed to the system. I use the options I have to a great extent.”

Those are Martin Rapp’s favorites in rooms:

  • The tasks are used particularly often and are probably the feature, Martin Rapp gets the greatest benefit from.
  • The calendar helps to prepare and plan team sessions and meetings. The joint creation of the agenda as a team and the discussion of documents in the appendix: the event usually contains all the information that is relevant to the meeting. In addition, issues can be viewed in full by all participants before the meeting, allowing everyone to enter the meeting prepared.
  • Numerous files are stored in the module Files which is especially important for complex processes and process steps.

Working transparently: Information stays accessible for everybody at all times

Whenever there is no digital tool like Stackfield available, spontaneously absent colleagues pose a greater obstacle. “Island information on the computer” or documents in the filing cabinet: The threshold for accessing information is high, work processes stagnate and this often has critical consequences for dependent tasks and projects.

Thus, Martin Rapp is happy to work with Stackfield now. “Tasks can be handed over quickly or taken over in the team if required. […] This flexibility, this possibility to make all information available quickly – that’s incredible.”

A tool that works

As a former computer scientist, Martin Rapp likes to focus on the technical advantages and knows that other colleagues often take a fully functional tool for granted. He, however, thinks that Stackfield’s performance deserves some credit: “So far, we have not experienced any real failures and there are very few minor problems. Often you only realize that you need something when it is no longer there. This is something we never needed to experience with Stackfield.”

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Cristian Mudure
About the Author:
Cristian Mudure is the Founder and CEO of Stackfield. He loves digital business models and spends his spare time on the tennis court.
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