In late October the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released draft guidance regarding screening for colorectal cancer, recommending that colorectal screening should begin at age 45, not at 50. The recommendation is due to several reasons including:
- Colorectal cancer is rising in younger people – 12% of cases in 2020 were among people under 50
- Colorectal cancer is the third most common cause of cancer in both men and women in the U.S.
- Colonoscopy is an effective tool to prevent colorectal cancer or diagnose it early to optimize outcomes
Notifying the population impacted by this new guidance and encouraging action
As health systems and hospitals struggle to ensure preventive procedures like colonoscopies continue amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, many are deploying strategic communication efforts. Between the ongoing pandemic and the growing popularity of at-home stool-based screening – which is designed for cancer detection, not prevention and polyp removal – colorectal screening via colonoscopy is in danger of diminished use. This new guidance provides a window to take action.
Many people in this demographic may not be aware of this proposed guidance and they are likely a receptive group for proactive outreach. Many people aged 45 to 50 are privately insured through their employer, and preventive screenings such as colonoscopies are not typically subject to copays, deductibles, and out of pocket costs. This group is also accustomed and receptive to digital communication efforts. They are engaged and technologically savvy consumers – do you have a strategy in place to reach them?
The power of automated communication technology to reach patient populations
99% of people between the ages of 30 and 49 own a cell phone and 92% own a smartphone, so reaching them via SMS text message can be an easy way to activate this population.
With an integrated digital communication tool like Twistle, patients in your EMR who meet this new criteria could be automatically notified of the new recommendations for colonoscopy. Partnering with a technology vendor who can provide clinical content and proven best practices can further simplify and amplify your outreach. You can provide clinical information about the efficacy of colonoscopies, give gentle nudges regarding scheduling the screening, reduce anxiety or uncertainty around the procedure with education, and give them an easy way to engage with your care team. A tailored communication pathway targeting younger people is also a great way to reach populations who may be less likely to get a colonoscopy without encouragement.
Once the patient has scheduled an appointment, you can give patients a seamless experience with step-by-step support as they prepare for the procedure. Via timely and automated prompts, you can nurture proactive communication to limit cancelations and no shows and lighten the administrative burden for your staff.
For your organization, demand for colonoscopies may already be high and the new guidance could actually just add to the backlog. If so, an automated communication cadence ensures if you do have cancelations, you’ll know with enough time to backfill the opening and maximize your resources.
Today’s consumers – especially people under 50 – expect a personalized, convenient healthcare experience. They expect the ability to interact with the care team without making any phone calls. As you navigate the future of increasingly virtual healthcare interactions, make sure you have a proactive digital communication tool in place to meet the expectation of new healthcare consumers and build loyalty for future services.
Interested in learning more about Twistle? Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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%!