MCC 2008 Spirit of Collaboration Award Winner Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month Outreach Program
About the Initiative The purpose of the collaboration was to increase the level of awareness around the importance of colorectal cancer education, screening, and early detection. This collaborative effort had a five-pronged focus and many measures of success. The foci include:
Providing a community benefit (screening free of charge to the community).
Active participation in community outreach and education efforts around improved health status by way of radio and direct mail. Colorectal screening kits and educational materials were provided at churches, physician offices, and through the mail.
Engagement of church leadership and congregations as well as our physician groups both primary care (delivering the message) and specialty (providing the follow-up care and testing). This also included service and outreach to our physician groups.
Creating an awareness in the community (both the lay public as well as other providers) that St. Joseph Mercy Oakland (SJMO) can provide a continuum of care to respond to the needs of the community. The program accommodates for patients with a positive result and no means of follow-up care (i.e., no insurance or provider) through the St. Joseph Mercy Oakland system.
Simply put — saving a life! More than 4,700 kits were distributed throughout the tri-county (Oakland, Macomb and Wayne) area and beyond. There has been a 25% return rate of completed tests, with an approximate 11-12% positive test result rate.
SJMO is working with our endoscopists to ensure proper follow-up for patients with suspicious findings and anticipate more detailed information in the months to come.
Impetus for the Collaboration
SJMO needed to expand their outreach efforts around cancer and in particular colorectal cancers. The impetus for the collaboration truly was because an effort of this magnitude and far-reaching required the buy-in and work of multiple internal departments as well as the commitment from the senior leadership team that this was an important project for the hospital to undertake.
Results SJMO is still learning of the significant achievements, but they are already hearing the stories of thankful patients with polyps that have been removed as well as heightened awareness and energy by the parish nursing and health ministry programs at the churches and the physician offices to educate and remind patients of the importance of proper screening for colorectal cancers.
SJMO’s Marketing department was successful as saturating the service area and beyond with strong and to-the-point messaging about the importance of being screened. They worked closely with the internal group as well as the American Cancer Society to ensure the proper distribution of key information program timing and a mechanism for the community to ask questions make appointments or seek future care and services.
Of note, SJMO had a high rate of participation within the community as well as a somewhat surprising rate of positive results. As expected, they found a number of positive results in the older populations, but they also saw patients younger than 50 with suspicious findings.
Also interesting was the fact that hospital staff was energized to take the test and make sure their loved ones did as well.
Lessons Learned Some important lessons learned include:
The design of the program would never have been so strong and thorough if all the right departments were not represented at the table. For example, when SJMO met with their Mission and Ethics VP to describe what they wanted to do as a community benefit, she — being responsible for the Parish Nursing program — suggested that they were actually a built-in conduit to achieving the project goals at the community level complete with motivated nurse educators a message of the spiritual importance of healthy bodies and a mechanism to reach out to where the people are instead of hope that the people will come to SJMO.
Another example might be the desire of our Community Health Promoters to make personal contact with patients that had a positive result in order to assist them in navigating the health care system and ensure that there were no barriers to follow-up care.
The laboratory played a key role in the messaging instructions and overall the compliance with the rate of collection and return using a simple test with straightforward instructions both in English and in Spanish. They also collected important demographic information not just for processing but for future data analysis.
Physician Relations worked closely with the physicians to garner their support in the program as well as describe the benefits of participation to their own practices.
The most important lesson learned is that if SJMO didn't have such a diversity of thought, skill, and interest we would have missed some key components of the program and it would not have been so successful.
During program debriefing, there were discussion on how to refine the program for next year including limiting the radio time (in 2008, SJMO was on the radio for the entire month of March - National Colorectal Awareness Month), clearly communicating the end of the program (as mentioned previously we continue to see results being returned even in May), ensure the proper demographic data is being collected for future analysis, and ensure wording of the consent and demographic sheet is appropriate for the target community.
“Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month Outreach Program” received the Michigan Cancer Consortium’s 2008 Spirit of Collaboration Award. The annual award is presented to member organizations that have done outstanding collaborative work to significantly move comprehensive cancer control activities forward in Michigan.