This year, I presented on the topic of racial disparities in follow-up adherence to lung cancer screening guidelines. As Chief Medical Officer at Eon and a physician, I share Eon’s belief that everyone regardless of race, health literacy, level of medical mistrust, stigma, language barriers, financial concerns, insurance status, or transportation issues deserves the opportunity to lead a full and healthy life. The 2022 American Lung Cancer Association Report showed alarming disparities in lung cancer rates amongst black and white patient populations. In comparison to white patients, black patients are 15% less likely to be diagnosed early, 19% less likely to receive surgical treatment, 10% more likely to not receive any treatment at all, and 12% less likely to survive 5 years. This is unacceptable.
Black patients, despite data that they actually may derive greater benefits than white patients from participating in a lung cancer screening program, do not enroll in, or adhere to follow-up screening recommendations at the same rates as white patients. Data published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society supports our experience at Eon. The study notes that decentralized Lung Cancer Screening (LCS) programs were found to have a 27% adherence gap between black and white patients concerning annual LCS screenings. This difference, however, was not observed in centralized programs. At Eon, we have seen that deploying centralized care management services to coordinate follow-up for lung cancer screening or incidental findings can significantly reduce this gap.
“By automating complex workflows, and increasing the number of communication touchpoints, more patients, both black and white, are successfully returning for appropriate follow-up care.”
The reasons for the race-based disparity in Lung Cancer Screening are varied and complex- but it has become increasingly clear that a centralized approach that incorporates a highly structured omnichannel patient/provider communication strategy is effective. Our Eon Patient Management solution (EPM) identifies and triages patients that need a follow-up exam and then automatically flags the care team when exams are ordered, completed, missed, or overdue. Our tech-enabled care management team at Eon uses these workflows to reach out to patients and providers to coordinate care on behalf of our clients. By automating complex workflows, and increasing the number of communication touchpoints, more patients, both black and white, are successfully returning for appropriate follow-up care. Only when patients are adherent to the next step in their care can the promise of these screening programs become fully realized.
Whether you partner with an organization like Eon or use internal resources, centralized care management is a worthwhile investment to connect with those patients that are hardest to reach. It is not until everyone in a community has the opportunity to live a full and healthy life is a community truly healthy.