How to enter patients for missed cancer screens

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Overall, in 2015, with the latest data for the year available, the United States had yet to meet the breast or colorectal cancer screening targets set by the CDC, with the exception of groups with the highest level of education. Lung cancer screenings among those at risk have remained low.

It sounds simple, but two of the best ways doctors can improve cancer screening rates are by recommending it to patients and sending frequent reminders.

“This is an important element that suppliers must recognize. It’s really powerful, our ability as providers to talk to patients about cancer screenings, ”said Dr. Laura Makaroff, senior vice president of prevention and early detection at the American Cancer Society.

Calling or emailing patients can be helpful. And having reminders in electronic health records and population management tools can also entice providers.

Some practices have not seen screenings return to pre-pandemic levels, fueling concerns that patients could be diagnosed at later stages, when cancer is more difficult to treat.

Screenings are still down about 30% from pre-pandemic levels in City of Hope of Orange County, President Annette Walker said.

The organization uses public service announcements, radio and digital advertisements to keep people coming back.

“The reason cancer centers are so worried is that we know COVID hasn’t stopped the cancer. People always get cancer at the same rate, ”she said. “We’re trying to go out there and advocate with people to get your testing done, but it’s still not back to normal.”

She said practices should consider extending their hours or opening on weekends to increase access for people who can’t enter during the day on weekdays.

“It may be more useful to look at how we deliver our services to some of these communities in a different way,” she said.

The CDC also recommends providing round-trip rides to appointments, offering mobile mammography vans or stool sample pickup locations, assisting with childcare, offering translation services. and assign staff to help patients identify and overcome barriers to screening.

The pandemic may have helped change the conversation about accessibility, possibly with more home screenings, experts say.

“One of the things we learned during the pandemic was how to make screening more accessible and more resistant to the pandemic,” said Phil Castle, director of the cancer prevention division at the National Cancer Institute.

The Food and Drug Administration is working with companies on home cervical cancer screening kits.

“We need to look at other ways to screen people who don’t need a clinic,” Castle said.

For example, study shows that sending home tests for colorectal cancer to patients increased screenings by more than 1,000% compared to a control group that only received a reminder via text message. about scheduling in-person screening, according to a study published in February in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Researchers sent the tests to late patients for testing at a community health center that primarily serves people of color.

However, some factors determining whether patients are screened for cancer are beyond the doctor’s control.

According to experts, the shortage of primary care physicians and the lack of insurance coverage are significant barriers to accessing screening.

“We have a lot more to do on the policy side to build a system of care that supports all of these best practices and enables providers to be able to provide the best care at the right time and in the right place for all patients,” said the American. Makaroff of the Cancer Society.


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