Cancer screening has been in the news a lot in the past year. Cancer screenings and diagnoses are significantly lower year-over-year due to the pandemic, and that undoubtedly means cancers, when they are diagnosed, will be more advanced and less survivable. In addition, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently recommended the age for long time smokers to receive a low-dose CT scan be lowered by five years – to age 50. Those factors, combined with the knowledge that lung cancer is the deadliest of all cancers, are great reasons to get proactive and help patients receive this important screening.
Acknowledging Barriers – For You and Your Patients
Lung cancer is often diagnosed after it has already spread outside the lungs and this screening is an important tool for early detection of the disease. But your practice is busy! The thought of making hundreds of phone calls or mailing postcards can be overwhelming. Sending a message through your patient portal is an option, but with adoption rates typically hovering around 25%, how will you reach the majority of your patient population?
Your patients may not pursue screening and early detection because they do not know about these new guidelines, lack knowledge to make an educated decision, or simply lack time or motivation. However, they also expect that their healthcare team will provide information and assistance regarding preventive health issues.
As practitioners, you are probably already aware your recommendation is the single most influential factor in persuading individuals to be screened or tested.
Contacting the Right Patient Population and Guiding Them Along the Way
There are multiple steps that must be completed before the scan can be scheduled. And just knowing the age of your patients won’t be enough to determine if the CT scan is warranted. Here’s some guidance on implementing a lung cancer screening initiative:
Survey your patient population. Patients in the relevant age group must also have a history of tobacco use. By sharing resources with them like a tool to calculate their “pack years” (number of years smoked x average number of packs smoked per day), you can identify patients who qualify as a “heavy smoker.” You can also use a survey to confirm the patient does not already have symptoms of lung cancer and collect other relevant information.
Help patients make an informed decision about screening. Patients will need to understand the pros and cons of the screening and other important information. Providing access to counseling and delivering digital educational information helps patients understand the process. For instance, payers will not cover the CT scan if the patient would not pursue treatment if they have cancer.
Confirm insurance coverage. Since the age range for this screening is lower than 65, the patient may not be insured by Medicare. If that is the case, a digital pathway can automatically prompt the patient to provide their insurance information to confirm that the scan will be covered.
Get patients scheduled and screened. Once a patient is ready to be screened, prompt them to schedule the appointment and then provide guidance, information and encouragement along the way so that they successfully complete the screening.
New Recommendation for Lung Cancer Screening
Did you know that people with a long history of smoking may now qualify for a low-dose CT scan at an earlier age? The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently recommended lowering the screening age from 55 to 50.
Partner With a Digital Health Pro
Maximize your outreach by automatically delivering a series of secure messages that help patients determine if they qualify for a low-dose CT scan, provide education, facilitate scheduling, and support successful screening.
Integration with your electronic medical record (EMR) or customer relationship management (CRM) application supports automated messaging to the appropriate target patient population, and integration of patient responses back into your source systems. Support lung screening and a multitude of other population health initiatives, or your chronic care programs, with HIPAA-compliant patient communication. Our 90%+ patient engagement rates and proven outcomes will ensure your success.
Need assistance driving your lung cancer screening initiatives? Twistle can help!