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Thompson Health Improves Early Detection of Cancer

Incidental radiology findings such as lung nodules are an opportunity to identify cancer at an early, treatable stage. However, as a result of inconsistent provider communication, imperfect tracking systems, and patient non-compliance, 30% to 70% of radiology follow-up recommendations go unfollowed.

To prevent delays in diagnosis, catch serious conditions while treatable, and reduce legal risks, UR Medicine Thompson Hospital, with the support of MCIC Insurance, created an innovative tracking system called “Backstop.” Working collaboratively with primary care physicians, UR Medicine imaging staff perform a three-month series of interventions―faxes, telephone calls, and patient letters―for patients with overdue recommendations.

Over 13 months, this intervention increased recommendation follow-through from 47% to 86%, higher than other studies have reported in the literature. A 2014 study in Thoracic Oncology shows a 50%, five-year survival benefit for patients diagnosed with stage I or II lung cancer compared to those with advanced stage at diagnosis. Additionally, treating a patient with an early-stage disease costs the health system 32% less. “Backstop” is estimated to reduce healthcare costs by $120,000 and save four lives annually.

For more information, contact Kristen Hans, R.N., M.S., Backstop Project Manager, Quality Improvement, Imaging Sciences, (585) 275-9597, kristen_hans@urmc.rochester.edu.