Early detection of breast cancer is a key factor in successful treatment and optimal clinical outcomes, yet many patients do not receive preventive care according to medical guidance. Patients who neglect regular medical care may not realize they are overdue for breast cancer screening, and providers lack the time or resources to do more than encourage self-exams and remind patients to schedule a mammogram when they are due.

In addition, the pandemic has delayed many primary care visits and the associated orders for preventive screening. When these patients finally return for screening, it will likely lead to an even greater burden on the healthcare system.

Preventive Breast Cancer Care Goes Beyond a Mammogram

Mammograms are a crucial tool for early detection of breast cancer, but they do not typically begin until patients are between 45 and 50 years of age. Relying only on mammograms fails to consider each person’s unique personal and family history that may indicate a different cancer screening plan. There may also be environmental factors that help patients better understand their potential risk and preventive actions they need to take.

The Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool (the Gail Model) should be used as an early way to identify high risk patients who may require more extensive and frequent preventive care. Once a patient knows their risk level, they can make more informed decisions about their care.

There are also other steps patients can take to minimize their risk for breast cancer such as self-exams, a healthy diet, and weight management.

Patients Must Be Proactively Involved in Their Healthcare

Many providers may only have time and resources to notify patients who participate in annual wellness visits to schedule mammograms. By leveraging a digital communication platform, providers can add a level of support and care. Patients can be automatically enrolled in a breast health pathway based upon age, history, or any other data trigger, and receive proactive, timely information in short, easy to understand language including:

  • Why patients may want to participate in a breast cancer risk assessment at an earlier age. Gentle nudges and encouragement drive personal prioritization of health, and shares statistics and success stories to increase awareness about the importance of completing a risk assessment.
  • When patients should seek care. Patients are empowered to stay as healthy as possible by receiving education about breast cancer including steps they can take to minimize risk, what to be aware of, and symptoms that need medical attention.
  • Prompts to schedule appointments for screenings like mammograms. Automated reminders encourage patients to schedule these important screenings and identify barriers they may be facing so they may be connected with financial, logistical, or other resources that can help them stay on track.

Seamless continuity of care. If a patient requires follow up care or receives a breast cancer diagnosis, they can be enrolled in the relevant pathway to help them navigate the next steps in their care.

Conclusion

Over 250,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and COVID-19 has caused an alarming number of people to delay preventive healthcare. Implementing an automated, proactive, digital communication pathway can help providers reach a much wider population and ensure they are receiving the screening and preventive care they need. For disadvantaged communities who are even more vulnerable, adding an accessible, text-based tool is an excellent way to connect patients with resources and reminders.

As providers become more overburdened than ever, automated digital tools are essential to streamline preventive care communication, connect patients to scheduling and resources, and direct them to the specialists who can provide advanced care when needed.

Patient engagement software can bridge many gaps in women’s healthcare, giving women a close connection to the care team between in person visits. If you want to learn more, contact Twistle at info@twistle.com.

Preventative Care Factsheet

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