New integrated technology from CancerIQ is accelerating the lifesaving ripple effect of the Adventist Health Early All-Around Detection (AHEAD) Program, an effort to help patients understand cancer risk for early detection and prevention. In an August 13th session at the HIMSS Global Health Conference in Las Vegas, AHEAD Medical Director Candace Westgate, DO, explained how this technology helped Adventist Health bring genomics to patients in care settings across the health system.
Since the start, the AHEAD program has changed the lives of patients like Maria Zepeda, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 35.
When Maria filled out a questionnaire about her health and family history, it suggested her cancer might be hereditary — which is associated with earlier onset and more aggressive disease. Her care team at Adventist Health recommended she undergo genetic testing.
That testing showed her cancer was BRCA1-positive. Learning she had the BRCA1 mutation not only helped inform her care plan, but also had ripple effects into her family. Maria’s sister got tested for the mutation, too, and tested positive. She chose to get a preventive double mastectomy and hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy.
“Discovering that I am BRCA1-positive has been a great finding for me and my family,” Maria said. “My sister’s discovery has made it possible for her to make lifesaving choices.”
To reach more patients and save more lives, the AHEAD Program — founded within an OB-GYN clinic at Adventist Health St. Helena — started using the CancerIQ platform, which allows clinicians to digitally collect patient-reported family history data and analyze it using predictive risk models and national practice guidelines, replacing the antiquated manual paper method.
Now, clinicians can easily identify at-risk patients — like Maria and her family — and navigate them to the appropriate services. The platform makes it possible for clinicians to do this all in a routine appointment, even if that appointment is virtual. This convenience factor proved to be a major driver of adoption — Adventist Health saw a five-fold increase in cancer risk screening across the system, and Dr. Westgate herself engaged nearly nine times more patients in preventive cancer care management.
On the heels of this success, Adventist Health sought to expand genomics into more clinical settings and more communities. But first it needed a way to help clinicians manage genetic data and care recommendations within their existing workflows. To address this challenge, CancerIQ developed a SMART on FHIR app compatible with Adventist Health’s EHR. It brings the information clinicians need to screen every patient for cancer into the health record at the point of care.
The collaboration made it possible for clinicians across specialties and primary care to adopt genomics. Now nearly 40 sites within the health system are enrolled in the AHEAD program, driving an exponential increase in genetic testing and reaching patients in both urban and rural communities. Thousands of Adventist Health patients, including two of Maria’s daughters, now have the peace of mind that they are doing everything they can to prevent and identify cancer at its earliest stages — and following the right preventive care plan. The ripple effect continues in communities all over the region Adventist Health serves.
To learn more about Dr. Westgate’s work with the AHEAD program and the underlying technology, read the original case study.