CHRISTUS Health System Increases Lung Cancer Screening Rates Using Text Messaging

The Client

Name: CHRISTUS Health System Specialties: Primary and Specialty Care

The Goal

Increase lung cancer screening rates for eligible patients.

The Result

Generated significantly more shared decision-making visits which led to an increased number of lung cancer screenings in just three months with multiple patients being identified in early, treatable phases.

The Challenge

CHRISTUS Health System is an international, faith-based healthcare organization made up of more than 600 medical centers. Headquartered in Texas with locations in three bordering states as well as Mexico, Chile, and Colombia, CHRISTUS Health’s mission is to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ. The not-for-profit system is one of the largest not-for-profit healthcare organizations in the United States, making them an influential leader in the transformation of the nation’s healthcare system.

With over 15,000 physicians, CHRISTUS Health offers individualized and compassionate care that encompasses a wide range of primary care services and specialties. Using an institute model, specialty care is standardized across locations, allowing specialists to offer comprehensive services within their respective domain of expertise.

In particular, CHRISTUS Health’s pulmonologists help patients manage acute and chronic respiratory and pulmonary disorders, including deficiencies and abnormalities of the cardiopulmonary system. Like all healthcare organizations across the world, one of their primary objectives is to help eligible patients receive lung cancer screenings in order to diagnose and treat the disease while it’s in early stages and most likely to be cured.

 

In contrast to national averages for breast cancer screenings hovering around 70 percent, only two to seven percent of patients who are eligible for a low-dose CT scan get screened for lung cancer. This statistic is especially concerning given the high mortality rate of patients who are diagnosed with lung cancer in later stages once symptoms have already appeared. Comparatively, patients who are diagnosed with stage one lung cancer can have as high as a 93 percent five-year survival rate.

The low lung cancer screening rate can be attributed to a variety of challenges, from complex eligibility criteria to the stigma associated with cigarette smoking—the leading cause of lung cancer. As a result, CHRISTUS Health, along with most health organizations, faces the challenge of engaging patients who meet screening criteria.

After watching a presentation on the positive impact text messaging had on diabetes compliance, CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic Chief of Pulmonary Medicine Suman Sinha, MD and his team took to the internet to find a partner who could help them apply the same concept to improve response rates for lung cancer screening outreach.

We’ve already begun to see promising results thanks to Providertech’s commitment and expertise in using technology to improve patient outcomes. We are pleased to partner with a forward-thinking company that serves as a professional and trustworthy partner in guiding new models for engaging patients in their health.”

- Suman K. Sinha MD, MS, MBA, FCCP, FACP

Chief, Pulmonary Medicine, Christus Trinity Clinic | Christus Health System

Solution Implemented

Population Health

Outreach Via Text

Messaging

The Solution

Dr. Sinha discovered Providertech and recognized the value the team brought with deep clinical expertise combined with technology-based solutions. CHRISTUS Health appreciated Providertech’s knowledge about text messaging regulations, including the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which would allow them to meet stringent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) guidelines while leveraging text messaging to more effectively engage their population. Other key criteria in selecting a partner included the ability to personalize messaging.

In September of 2020, CHRISTUS Health engaged Providertech to enhance their lung cancer screening program using automated and real-time two-way text messaging to engage patients who are eligible for lung cancer screenings. The goal of the partnership is to scale communication to eligible patients who have not yet completed lung cancer screenings, while also engaging them in their long-term lung health. 

Providertech’s flexible HIPAA compliant text messaging platform (CareMessenger) combined with their team of expert patient engagement consultants, ensured CHRISTUS could design messaging protocols that used personalized and timed text messages to guide patients through the decision-making process. By leveraging Epic’s Healthy Planet population health platform and integrating the output to Providertech’s CareMessenger, messages could be tailored to patients meeting specific criteria such as age, risk factors, location, last visit date, and more.

The first step in the process is to spark an interest for patients in how lung screening can benefit them by learning more through a shared decision making visit. During this appointment, lung specialists help patients understand the importance of early diagnosis and determine their eligibility for lung cancer screening. This allows Dr. Sinha’s team to establish relationships with their patients which is critical for both short-term outcomes—like screening engagement—as well as long-term health, such as support for smoking cessation. The appointment is also helpful for routing patients who are already experiencing lung cancer symptoms to the appropriate point of care for further examination.

Following the shared decision-making visit, CHRISTUS Health follows up with the patient via text with messaging based on the conversation at the appointment. For patients who meet screening criteria, messaging prompts them to schedule a lung cancer screening and navigate next steps. CHRISTUS Health notes that the experience for both their team and patients has been simple and easy to use thanks to Providertech’s thoroughness on the back-end of the tool.

Increase in shared decision making visits

Increase in lung cancer screening rates for eligible patients

Increase in early detection, resulting in better patient outcomes

The Result

Less than three months into the engagement, CHRISTUS Health is pleased to observe significantly higher response rates than the national average for lung cancer screening engagement. A large number of eligible patients have scheduled and attended a shared decision-making appointment, and many have gone on to complete a lung cancer screening. As a result, several patients have already been diagnosed with early-stage lung cancer, allowing them to receive treatment while it is most effective. Enhancing the lung cancer program with text messaging has already proven to be life-saving.

The program remains underway and the team looks forward to collecting additional data to support their anecdotal evidence of success. Dr. Sinha adds…

“We’ve already begun to see promising results thanks to Providertech’s commitment and expertise in using technology to improve patient outcomes. We are pleased to partner with a forward-thinking company that serves as a professional and trustworthy partner in guiding new models for engaging patients in their health.”

 

75%

decrease in time spent confirming appointments

With Providertech’s help, we achieved a 75% decrease in time spent manually confirming appointments, helping us to more efficiently engage our patients using the resources we already had.

Amy Bastianelli |

Director of Population Health, La Communidad Hiispana

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