In 2018, lung cancer death rates in the United States fell to the lowest rate ever recorded — a 31% drop since peak numbers in 1991. Researchers believe that much of this success is due to a lesser amount of smoking in the country and better methods of screening and treating the disease.
As we enter 2021, we should not only take a moment to celebrate what we have accomplished so far but recognize that the job isn’t over yet and that there’s still a lot of work to do to continue reducing lung cancer mortality rates in the United States.
Great tools mean great results
For the past few years, new lung cancer treatments and immunotherapies have played a part in the increased survival rate of those diagnosed with lung cancer. Another area that has aided in the fight against the disease is strong healthcare IT technology.
In the case of Riverdale Family Practice, a provider was able to send a reminder through eClinicalWorks to urge a patient to have a second CT scan after the provider noticed an abnormality three months prior. Because of this second test, the provider discovered that the patient was in the very early stages of lung cancer and was able to receive timely treatment. The patient was then able to make a full recovery.
Another instance where healthcare IT technology made a difference was at Compass Medical. With the help of the eClinicalWorks EHR, providers were able to screen over 2,000 patients at risk for lung cancer, detecting and treating cancer in 19 patients.
“Our ability to do that work is aided by the systems that we’ve set up, the questionnaires, the templates, the Order Forms. We then track and follow these patients carefully over time because they have to have annual scans,” said Dr. Michael Myers, Chief Medical Officer for the practice.
The future of lung cancer screening
Providers know they have the right tools to continue reducing the number of lung cancer mortalities in the United States — it’s when the unexpected comes into the mix where problems arise.
2020 will be known as a year of the unexpected — as COVID-19 changed the way providers practiced healthcare and how people lived their lives.
At the start of the pandemic, many doctor’s offices had to physically close their doors and utilize telehealth technology where it was possible to do so. Still, tests like lung cancer screenings had to be done in an in-person setting.
As the year went on, providers found ways to establish safer protocols, like a contactless check-in solution, and bring patients back into the office. But even so, many patients would rather wait than take the risk of contracting the coronavirus. As time goes on and the methods for staying safe continue to evolve, hopefully, more and more high-risk patients will feel comfortable coming into the office and taking advantage of the preventive tools available to them.
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