Posted By Hope Alfaro On June 6, 2017
Current research and data show that preventative screenings for various forms of cancer help dramatically improve efficacy of treatments and survival rates from catching cancer in its early stages. Despite this evidence, however, rates of these screenings continually fall below national targets from Healthy People 2020 for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers. The largest segments of the population to be less likely to receive appropriate cancer screening are typically from rural areas, the uninsured, Hispanics, African Americans and Native Americans, and those with low socioeconomic status. These populations are often the most common populations to utilize Federally Qualified Health Centers for their primary care as they are more likely to be found in rural or urban areas and treat everyone regardless of their ability to pay for services.
One major barrier to improving screening rates is the general knowledge of the tests and why they are important in the community. The CDC has easy to read information available to be shared at health centers and during appointments. Educational materials can be added in to your electronic health record (EHR) and shared with a patient along with other instructions for care after their appointment. Flags for follow up for patients not ready to make screening appointments can also be added to their patient record.
Education for improving screening rates does not just have to mean patients. A study by State University of New York Upstate Medical University, Syracuse showed that just a 1-hour academic detailing session addressing current cancer screening guidelines and best practices, followed by 6 months of practice facilitation to implement evidence-based interventions increased cancer screening rates by 13% at 23 practices including FQHCs and non-profit clinics.
Communication in Cancer Screening
Easy communication with patients and with other providers is also key to improving cancer screen rates in a community. Shared data from state and regional Health Information Exchanges (HIE) can be critical for pinpointing the best candidates for screening. It can also notify providers what patients have not been screened or those who are due. Communication with patients can also be made easier with a certified EHR. Automatic appointment reminder systems can dramatically reduce no-shows at your clinic as well as provide information for patients about upcoming screening drives and educational materials. The better connected your EHR the better information you are able to distribute to under screened populations in need.
“A Practice Facilitation and Academic Detailing Intervention Can Improve Cancer Screening Rates in Primary Care Safety Net Clinics” Emily M. Mader, MPH, MPP; Chester H. Fox, MD; John W. Epling, MD, MSEd; Gary J. Noronha, MD; Carlos M. Swanger, MD; Angela M. Wisniewski, PharmD; Karen Vitale, MSEd; Amanda L. Norton, MSW; Christopher P. Morley, PhD