PRmoment Health Communications Review: Can Microsoft Teams, Zoom advance better cancer care?

PRmoment's weekly 'Healthcare Communications Review' column looks at the biggest healthcare trends every week and analyses the communications implications. In partnership with SPAG, A Finn Partners Company.

October traditionally is the #BreastCancerAwarenessMonth. Started by a New York charity Pink Ribbon Inc., the pink ribbon is the very well-known symbol sported by people advocating breast cancer awareness.

What is your first reaction when you see this, indifference with a touch of ennui or actions towards screening?

Some of the greatest health awareness campaigns can suffer from the same challenges. How to keep the message fresh, relevant and actionable; that results in health-seeking behaviour. 

The pandemic, innovation and cancer awareness

Cancer awareness and treatment have struggled under the weight of Covid-19, with a clinical backlog for cancer cases.

But the pandemic has created this great wave of health awareness that may also help spark innovation in other major diseases like Cancer.

Organisations have come up with studies about AI-generated solutions that can assess mammograms without a human involved.

Ioannis Sechopoulos, a medical imaging specialist at Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. As per Nature magazine, Sechopoulos and colleagues conducted a trial in which they compared an AI system with 101 radiologists in assessing 2,652 mammography images. The results showed that AI was as good as an average technician in finding out malignant cases from the images but not as good as the best technicians.

There are clear ethical issues involved but the researchers are at pains to say that this can only be a second opinion to help reduce the current backlog of cases, with risk scores to decide how many human technicians it should go on to. 

At the same time, verifiable results show positive changes in health-seeking behaviour by cancer patients using well-known tech tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. 

These are clear areas of innovation coupled with patient engagement and advocacy that can help create nuanced cancer communications.

What does this mean for communicators? Here are some innovative examples of patient engagement that are great examples of last-mile communication.

1. The Baptist Health’s Miami Cancer Institute, Miami, Florida, for example, as mentioned before, as per the Healthcare Innovation portal, "Used technology to improve compliance to oral oncolytic education, consent, and adherence standards. Readily available technology like Zoom and Cisco Jabber supported patient education, DocuSign allowed digital signatures, and Microsoft Teams facilitated ongoing review of oral oncolytic prescriptions. After this quality improvement initiative, oral oncolytic education and consent compliance increased from 60 per cent on the initial audit to 100 per cent, with 90 per cent occurring on the same day the oral oncolytic was prescribed."

2.  Ochsner Health, Ochsner Cancer Institute, New Orleans, Louisiana launched a Chemotherapy Care Companion: A Remote Patient Monitoring Programme.  As per the Healthcare Innovation portal, "As a result of remote monitoring, from January 2020 through December 2021, 284 enrollments occurred with 50 per cent being Stage 4 patients. Ages ranged from 23 to 86 years old with a compliance rate of 67 per cent, which indicated that patients successfully completed more than 50 per cent of their daily vitals and questionnaire tasks. Preliminary data shows that Chemotherapy Care Companion reduced the total number of ED visits and admissions by 33 per cent."

3. Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James), structured an "Expediting Cancer Treatment Through a Rapid Access APP-Led Diagnostic Clinic"

As per the Healthcare Innovation portal, "In response to data that showed a significant decrease in both the volume of cancer screening tests and the number of cancer diagnoses, the James Cancer Diagnostic Center decided to provide patients with direct, expedited access to diagnostic testing. Open five days a week for same or next-day in-person or virtual appointments, this advanced practice provider-led center provides a novel “front door” to the cancer hospital. More than 600 patients have been seen in this center, with 40 percent being referred to a sub-specialty provider, offering a unique opportunity to extend diagnostic services from the inpatient to the outpatient setting."

Ride on!

British Radio presenter Chris Evans has launched the FAB 1 million campaign for breast awareness. If you want to ride in a Rolls-Royce Ghost, with a FAB 1 number plate (owned by Evans) you can rent the car anytime in the next one year with bubbly thrown in, all proceeds to go to cancer charity.

Do watch the fun launch video also featuring Top Gear drivers and Nobel prize winners.

That's it for this week. Special thanks to SPAG, a FINN Partner company for their ongoing support for this weekly column.

News for the column curated by Impact Research and Measurement

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