Providertech strives to help healthcare providers, payers and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) scale care management beyond the traditional care setting. How? We enable them to provide better quality care, outcomes and experiences for their patients when and where they need it. Although it sounds pretty techy (and sometimes intimidating), we do this by leveraging mobile outreach technologies, artificial intelligence and our clinical expertise. But don’t worry, it’s really quite simple. 

Using automated mobile text, and voice communications, our customizable, patient-centered solutions help our clients: 

  • Reduce wasted time, which in turn reduces costs and improves operational efficiencies
  • Recover lost revenue by reducing no-shows and increasing patient satisfaction
  • Restore patient outcomes through expanded patient outreach, which improves quality measures 

And when we see exciting results happening with our clients, we just have to share their stories! Today we’re highlighting CHRISTUS Health

What Is the CHRISTUS Health System?

CHRISTUS Health is an international, not-for-profit system of more than 600 centers with over 15,000 physicians providing individualized care. They deliver “a complete healing experience that respects the individual.” Although their services cover a wide range of primary care and specialties, this success story will focus on CHRISTUS Health’s pulmonologists who help patients manage acute and chronic respiratory and pulmonary disorders.

Why The Focus On Lung Cancer?

Each year, hundreds of thousands of people are diagnosed with lung cancer in the U.S. And even more devastating, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast and prostate cancers combined. According to the National Foundation For Cancer Research, here are a few key facts:

  • An estimated 235,760 people will receive a diagnosis of lung cancer in 2021
  • Although smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer, almost 20 percent of cases occur in non-smokers
  • Currently, a low-dose CT scan is the only proven effective way to screen for lung cancer

And, according to the World Health Organization’s most recent figures from 2018, the top five causes of cancer death globally were:

  • Lung cancer (1.76 million)
  • Colorectal cancer (862,000)
  • Stomach cancer (783,000)
  • Liver cancer (782,000)
  • Breast cancer (627,000)

And estimates suggest that more than 16 million people will die of cancer by 2040.

So, if lung cancer is the deadliest form of cancer, why aren’t more people getting early screening and treatment?

The Challenge – Low Lung Cancer Screening Rate

One of CHRISTUS Health’s primary objectives is to help eligible patients receive lung cancer screenings. This helps the team diagnose and treat the disease while it’s in early stages and most likely to be cured. Here’s the challenge – only two to seven percent of their patients who are eligible for a low-dose CT scan get screened for lung cancer. 

According to the American Lung Association, detecting lung cancer in early stages versus late stage is often the difference between life and death. And according to the National Library of Medicine, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the USA for both men and women. The five-year survival rate for lung cancer depends on the stage at which it is diagnosed, and unfortunately, only 16 percent of lung cancer cases are diagnosed at an early stage.

Barriers To Overcome When Recruiting Target Groups

When it comes to recruiting the population for lung cancer screening, healthcare providers – including CHRISTUS Health – face barriers they must overcome, such as:

  • Changing criteria of who to screen
  • No easy way to identify target group of patients with EHRs
  • Smokers tend to be reluctant to participate
  • Lack of understanding of screening guidelines, especially challenging since early stages are usually asymptomatic
  • Financial challenges, including navigating existing insurance benefits 
  • Language and knowledge barriers
  • Low socioeconomic status

From all the lung cancer cases studied, research shows that smoking is the root cause in more than 90 percent with a mortality rate close to 85 percent. It’s scary. Not everyone wants to hear the prognosis, which is typically poor. 

Improving Response Rates for Lung Cancer Screening Outreach

After watching a presentation on the positive impact text messaging had on diabetes compliance, the CHRISTUS Health team researched to find a partner that could help them apply the same concept to improve response rates for lung cancer screening outreach. They discovered Providertech.

What the CHRISTUS Health team appreciated was Providertech’s knowledge about text messaging regulations, including the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), and the stringent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) guidelines. This expertise allowed them to leverage text messaging to more effectively engage their population and provide the ability to personalize messaging.

Together, Providertech and CHRISTUS Health enhanced the lung cancer screening program using Providertech’s flexible HIPAA-compliant text messaging platform, CareMessenger, an automated and real-time two-way text messaging platform to engage patients who are eligible for lung cancer screenings. The goals were to increase shared decision-making visits, increase lung cancer screening rates for eligible patients, and increase early detection that would result in better patient outcomes. But it took more than just implementing a text messaging service. Providertech’s team of expert patient engagement consultants worked with the CHRISTUS Health team to map out their workflow.

At a high level, the workflow includes:

  • Sparking an interest in patients to understand how lung screening can benefit them
  • Inviting them to a shared decision-making visit with their provider 
  • Educating them during their visit about the importance of early diagnosis and determine their eligibility for lung cancer screening
  • Routing patients who are already experiencing lung cancer symptoms to the appropriate point of care for further examination
  • Following up with the patient via text with personalized messaging based on the appointment conversation
  • Navigating patients to continue care to schedule and complete a lung cancer screening 

Results of the CHRISTUS Health and Providertech Partnership

In less that three months into this partnership, CHRISTUS Health began to see significantly higher response rates than the national average for lung cancer screenings. Eligible patients began scheduling and attending shared decision-making appointments, and many have completed lung cancer screenings. Due to early detection, many patients were diagnosed with early-stage lung cancer and were able to receive treatment when it is most effective. Needless to say, enhancing their lung cancer program with CareMessenger text messaging, CHRISTUS Health’s patient outreach  has proven to be life-saving.

Learn how Providertech’s experts can help your patients increase their access to care and improve clinical outcomes in our recent webinar. Watch the replay now