In the last year using CancerIQ, we have been able to see 41% more patients, and we have not increased our genetic counseling FTEs." | Candace (Candy) Nehlsen-Hofman, MS, LCGC, Cancer Genetic Counselor - Sharp Cancer Genetics Program
Thinking about taking the next step with genetic risk assessment software in the new year? If so, read on to learn about how the Cancer Centers for Sharp HealthCare switched to the CancerIQ platform to better streamline the genetic counseling process for its several thousand cancer patients. The specific problems the cancer center experienced before and after implementing another risk assessment software solution - and the outcomes following the subsequent switch to CancerIQ - are detailed below.
The Problem Sharp Was Trying to Solve
The ultimate issue Sharp HealthCare's cancer centers hoped to solve with the initial risk assessment software implementation was to address the limitations and inefficiencies of its current manual, paper-based processes used by the genetic counselors. Specifically, they were trying to solve the following:
- Patient access related to the family history questionnaire: Of the patients referred to genetic counseling, only 51 percent completed the family history questionnaire and were confirmed with a genetic counseling appointment.
- Genetic counselors' productivity when generating pedigrees and models: Because genetic counselors drew pedigrees by hand and ran risk assessments individually, about four to five hours of their time was spent on documentation and administrative follow-up tasks.
- Referring physician engagement: Referring physicians were kept waiting for results letters, documentation and instructions for what to do next. There was also little consistency in documentation across genetic counselors.
Why Sharp Chose CancerIQ
After implementing the initial risk assessment software solution, the cancer centers unfortunately did not see an improvement in GC referrals over the previous paper-based process, nor any time savings due to the software's limited documentation features and functionality. Because the initial software solution failed to adequately address the problems the organization had hoped to address with its implementation, they chose CancerIQ as the replacement.
Practical Steps to Making the Switch
Candace (Candy) Nehlsen Hofman, Cancer Genetic Counselor at Sharp Cancer Genetics Program, has some helpful tips to help ensure a successful implementation when making the switch to CancerIQ:
- Get the new software into the budget: Demonstrate the value-add from implementing the solution, such as illustrating the potential per capita cost or time savings, or estimated incremental revenues anticipated.
- Take a look under the hood: Initiate the IT security and privacy assessment process early to gain access to a robust free trial account that can be tested with a limited number of your actual patients.
- Identify product or service gaps in advance: Review the important features to make sure CancerIQ helps you achieve specific goals and sufficiently meets the needs of your patient population, clinical requirements and staff.
- Hear from a reference customer: Make an effort to speak with a current customer about their experience using the system, recommendations related to the implementation process, etc. You also can view recorded webinars to learn more.
- Launch with a goal to improve over time: Expect to take about six months to perfect your processes using CancerIQ. With actual usage, staff likely will develop note templates, identify useful product enhancements and integrate with other electronic medical record systems in place.
Outcomes for Sharp HealthCare
The implementation of CancerIQ at Sharp HealthCare resulted in an overall improvement in patient care, due to the following realized benefits:
- Higher uptake of genetic counseling referrals: The rate of patient completion of the family history questionnaire increased to 86 percent, meaning more than a third more questionnaires were completed. The increased completion rates were in part due to compelling digital outreach with links to an electronic version of the questionnaire.
- Improved genetic counselor productivity: Sharp's genetic counselors were able to conduct more than 40 percent more new genetic counseling appointments after switching to CancerIQ, without hiring additional staff. Productivity tools streamlined the genetics workflow, with enhanced pedigrees and risk models, templates for documentation notes and improvements to test order processes.
- Enabled more appropriate, evidence-based care: With CancerIQ, providers have access to up-to-date NCCN guidelines for screening, surveillance and management of both average risk and high risk populations. CancerIQ also tracks recommended changes in care, helping primary care, women's health and oncology providers, in collaboration with genetics specialists, better manage their patients over time and across clinical specialty.
Watch the Sharp HealthCare webinar, "Making the Switch to CancerIQ," for more information about the cancer centers journey, and then schedule a demo to learn how you too can "make the switch" to increase referrals, improve GC productivity, and create downstream revenue opportunities for your organization.