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How Data Drives the Path Forward

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Prevention on the Go logo on busWhen Prevention on the Go (POGO) launched in 2002, the dedicated cancer support and outreach team tracked screening events and those who participated in them through what would today be considered Word tables. This method of data collection didn’t allow for the level of visibility needed when tracking trends in cancer detection nor afford the ability to track by participant. Those Word tables eventually gave way to spreadsheets, which while allowing closer tracking, was a huge task considering multiple screening events, with dozens of participants, were held each week.

Two decades later, with POGO having conducted more than 107,000 screenings and detecting more than 800 cancers, all screening data is now available at the click of a mouse thanks to a cloud-based database that operates in real-time. This technology, in turn, allows team members to determine where the Cancer Center’s three mobile medical units should be scheduled and which community members should be targeted for various cancer screenings.

“Being able to see when and where we’re needed allows us to maximize our resources and have the most impact with those who may face barriers to early detection and prevention services – specifically those who are uninsured or underinsured,” said Renea Duffin, vice president, cancer support and outreach, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center.

Namely, if a certain region has a more disparate population and a cancer mortality higher than average, the Cancer Center’s POGO team can tailor the screening schedule to include more visits to the area. 

Events can also be added to the calendar if there is an overwhelming demand for screenings, as seen recently when a Houma-area health event filled up every prostate cancer screening appointment, weeks in advance.

The cloud-based system, known as MyPOGO, serves as a roadmap of sorts for the outreach team, keeping the tens of thousands of screening participants and their information private except to nurse navigators and others who will assist the participant due to an abnormal finding. With the program now spanning southeast Louisiana, the Delta region, and into southwest Mississippi, MyPOGO makes patient follow-up seamless.

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“Whether it’s while a patient is at a screening site or with walk-up participants, we can see what our capabilities are for a certain screening,” said Sharneitha Bradford, patient navigator and POGO team lead, Mary Bird Perkins. “We can see if we need to open up more screening slots, what our turnaround times are, or if we need to reach out to patients who may not have shown up for their appointment. Having instant access is critical to making sure those who want to be screened can go through the process at their convenience.”

Prevention on the Go eventThanks to the real-time updates provided by MyPOGO, Mary Bird Perkins can improve the participant experience while also increasing the number of screenings it conducts. For example, at screening events, participants are asked to complete a risk assessment to determine if they are eligible for a take-home colorectal screening kit. If they qualify, the participant must return the completed kit for the screening to be confirmed with results. Through the database, team members can track when a participant was given a kit and if their test is outstanding. Utilizing evidence-based best practices, the team members provide reminder phone calls in two-week increments to encourage the participant to complete the process – an ability that was not available – or extremely time-consuming and burdensome – before this paperless system. Ultimately, this can lead to more people being screened, which is paramount to the program’s mission.

 “This might be the most helpful aspect of the program, because if we conduct more screenings we have the potential to catch more diagnoses earlier, leading to better outcomes,” Duffin said.

Beyond transforming how data informs the Cancer Center’s screening practices, MyPOGO also provides a new level of ease for participants. The portal eliminates unnecessary paperwork, stores personal information securely in one place, and allows for streamlined screening scheduling.

“POGO has become a nationally recognized cancer screening program for its innovative and convenient format – going into communities where gaps in cancer care exist,” Duffin said. “Now, having entered an era driven by data collection and efficiency, having this level of insight helps us reach even more people – and not just any people – but those who need our services.”

To set up an easy-to-use account or to view your personalized screening calendar, visit pogo.marybird.com.