Making Colorectal Cancer Screenings a Priority

07 Aug 2013
Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and the leading cause of cancer deaths among nonsmokers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Early detection is key to treating colorectal cancer. Screening tests offer a powerful opportunity for detecting colorectal cancer early and treating it successfully. Most people can reduce their risk of colorectal cancer by following screening guidelines. Early detection of colorectal cancer is inexpensive and saves lives. 
The Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality (WCHQ), leader of the AF4Q initiative in Wisconsin, has made colorectal cancer screenings a priority. Seventeen out of 21 WCHQ members have reached an improvement target of a 70 percent or higher screening rate. The ultimate goal is to achieve a 70 percent rate for all patients, and WCHQ is well on its way.   
Clinician leaders have played an essential role in advancing the WCHQ Colorectal Screening Project. A project team including a dozen physicians and nurses worked together over six months to select a set of proven best practices that include identifying eligible patients, redesigning clinic workflows, employing electronic medical records, improving patient-physician communications, and educating patients on different screening options. WCHQ presented proven best practices through a series of webinars led by two physicians from the team. An online toolkit also has been developed to provide a one-stop resource for real-world examples of clinic workflows, electronic medical record procedures, and patient education materials. WCHQ continues to support clinics with additional resources as well as best practice and problem-solving conference calls. Clinics are encouraged to share their triumphs and challenges in increasing screening rates.