Despite that fact that colonoscopies can, many times, actually prevent cancer through polyp removal and are the best tool for early detection of colorectal cancer, patients still put them off for a variety of reasons – discomfort, time constraints, transportation issues, lack of awareness, and others.
Many patients delayed scheduling their screening because of the pandemic
Colonoscopies were down 75% at the height of the pandemic compared with 2019 for a variety of reasons: patients were in a high risk category for COVID-19 infection, were balancing all of the other pandemic-related pressures, or were afraid to come to a healthcare facility. This will almost certainly result in undiagnosed cancer being discovered at a later stage which will have a negative impact on the patient’s prognosis. In honor of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month – here are four ideas to get patients who are overdue for their colonoscopy on the schedule and successfully screened:
Layout what’s at stake. Patients may not be aware of how important this screening is for prevention or early detection of colorectal cancer. Send a reminder with a gentle prompt that a colonoscopy is a small price to pay to avoid a late stage cancer diagnosis.
Set expectations. Patients expect the screening to be stressful and unpleasant. Put patients at ease by providing patient testimonials, care team credentials, and what they should actually expect throughout the whole process.
Offer step-by-step guidance. Proper preparation is a multi-step process that can be confusing and, if not done properly, may prevent the procedure from happening at all. Use a communication pathway that delivers information in alignment with the day and time of the procedure. These reminders will help patients be prepared with the supplies they will need, and prompt them when it’s time to complete each step.
Provide reassurance and encouragement. Don’t discount the effectiveness of a gentle nudge – a video from the doctor or friendly reminder with an emoji – to prevent those late cancelations or day before jitters!
Case Study: Reducing Colonoscopy Cancelations
If this all sounds like a heavy lift for your care team, read about how Swedish used a text-based, automated communication pathway to guide patients and reduce late cancelations and no shows by 44%!
Keeping patients healthy
Aligning communication efforts (why a colonoscopy matters and how to prepare) with patient goals (not getting cancer) will reduce the tendency to postpone preventive screenings.
Twistle offers flexible, configurable care pathways to help patients meet their goals, eliminate manual busy work for your care team, and help patients experience the best outcomes possible. If you need help optimizing and personalizing patient care pathways, contact Twistle at firstname.lastname@example.org.