While almost a quarter-million women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the U.S., the impact of the disease spreads so much further. Our partners, children, siblings, and even friends are touched, especially if they are close to one of the 40,000 women and 500 men whose lives are taken every year as a result. While it’s most common in women over 50, breast cancer impacts women of all ages, and there are few people who don’t know the toll this type of cancer takes on individuals and communities.
We understand the importance of breast cancer awareness as a goal for FQHCs because, while the condition impacts all groups, underserved populations face specific challenges and disparities. Some of these include:
Higher incidence of behavioral risks like smoking, physical inactivity, excessive alcohol consumption, and obesity
Environmental risk factors such as exposure to carcinogens in motor vehicle exhaust, especially in dense urban neighborhoods
Mistrust of the healthcare system
Apprehension around language proficiency
Higher rates of mortality for breast cancer (as seen in African-American and Hispanic populations)
CareMessage celebrates Breast Cancer Awareness Month as a yearly opportunity to emphasize the importance of communication in helping patients, their families, and friends, feel supported in awareness, prevention, and self-care. We are dedicated to supporting FQHCs in their missions to serve the underserved and address their specific health needs in navigating breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Screening Changes in 2020
FQHCs across the country coordinate with health plans to encourage patient screening that not only supports their patients, but also meets national guidelines and achieves HEDIS measures. Looking forward to 2020, breast cancer screenings will shift to a UDS measure, encouraging more alignment between providers and plans. Clinical guidelines have been updated to track the percentage of women 50-74 years old who have had a mammogram to screen for breast cancer within the 27 months before the end of the measurement period. As an additional note, CMS follows U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) guidelines and the American Cancer Society has its own set of recommendations that suggest screening begins at age 40.
The Power of Breast Cancer Outreach and Education
Most types of breast cancer are highly treatable, and in many cases, the earlier diagnosis occurs, the more the lives of those with breast cancer around us can be improved. A 2018 study performed by the American Cancer Society found that women who participate in organized screening have a 60% lower risk of death within 10 years following diagnosis and 47% lower risk within 20 years. This is why awareness fueled by outreach and education should be encouraged in our care communities.
FQHCs face specific challenges in how to best reach their communities so that awareness efforts impact the most lives possible. We’ve found that an approach as simple as text messaging answers this challenge. A CareMessage survey of almost 400 FQHC patients found that text messaging was the feature they used most, beating out both phone calls and internet access. Our Outreach feature takes this dynamic into account and today, supports our partners in easily reminding their patients of preventive breast cancer screening through prepared content covering the following use cases:
Reminding patients of Breast Cancer Awareness month
Sending targeted messages to women between 50 and 74 to remind them of their biennial screenings as recommended by USPSTF
Sending health education text messages and videos on how to prepare for an exam
Our preventive care outreach empowers our partners to communicate effectively with patients, at scale, in either English or expert-translated Spanish for cultural relevancy — all while improving HEDIS scores and helping patients better navigate their breast cancer risk and management to build healthier, happier lives.
We want to invite you to join us this Breast Cancer Awareness month by encouraging the women in your lives to get screened and to participate in a demo of the CareMessage Outreach feature.