A Real-Life Example of a Telehealth Cancer Genetic Screening Program

May 15, 2020

Fewer Americans have been getting cancer screenings like colonoscopies, mammograms and Pap smears since COVID-19 forced many clinics to put restrictions in place.

That’s according to a report by the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science, based on claims data from more than 205 million patients.

Comparing weekly averages from February with the first week of April, there was a 90% decrease in colonoscopies, an 87% decrease in mammograms and an 83% decrease in Pap smears. Tests for prostate cancer and lung cancer were also down.

Reduction in Diagnostic Testing during COVID-19Stats like these mean cancer programs are less likely to catch cancer early on. They also indicate there will be a backlog of patients who need tests once shelter-in-place restrictions loosen.

“My biggest concern was about high-risk patients who need those preventative services and our ability to pick up breast cancer at an early stage,” Dr. Candace Westgate, an OB-GYN at Adventist Health, told Healthcare Innovation in a recent article. “Now we are not doing those anymore … and we are going to find ourselves later this year with a higher volume of later-stage cancer diagnoses.”

High-risk patients need those preventative services and our ability to pick up breast cancer at an early stage.

Dr. Westgate founded the Adventist Health Early All-Around Detection (AHEAD) program to help prevent cancer diagnoses and didn’t want COVID-19 to derail the program’s work.

To address her concerns, Dr. Westgate and her team shifted the AHEAD program’s model completely to virtual visits using CancerIQ’s platform, she told HCI.

Instead of filling out family and personal history forms in-person on a tablet, patients get an email request ahead of their virtual appointment to fill out the forms.

CancerIQ then flags patients who are at increased risk of cancer based on their history. AHEAD program clinicians then use CancerIQ to:

  • Schedule virtual genetic counseling sessions
  • Order at-home tests
  • Schedule virtual results disclosures
  • Track care management plans

All of this information will soon be fully integrated into Adventist’s electronic health records, using the CancerIQ app recently released in the Cerner App Gallery.

With our support, it took only two weeks for Dr. Westgate and team to move the AHEAD program completely virtual, so they could continue preventing and preempting cancer diagnoses. 

Patient volume for the AHEAD Program is now at over 80% in the clinic, with more clinic visits returning and utilizing virtual genetic consults. Fridays are now dedicated 100% to virtual genetic consults and they are averaging an additional 10-15 consults a week (pre-genetic test) that will continue to rise in another month as they consult for post-genetic test results.

Right now, knowledge matters most. CancerIQ is here to support your cancer program and your patients, as well. Our team is equipped to help secure stimulus funding from the COVID-19 Telehealth Program and help rapidly deploy a telehealth high-risk cancer program. 

If you are an existing CancerIQ client and want to learn more, contact Haibo Lu, VP of Product and Customer Success.

If you are a provider and would like to access the CancerIQ Specialist at no charge for the next 90 days, contact Kelly Hall, VP of Commercial Strategy.

Topics: Genetic Counseling| High-Risk Patients| Preventive Care| Telehealth| COVID-19