Previously on Screen the Lungs!, we’ve discussed many patient-level strategies to improve lung cancer screening initiatives. Today, I will focus on healthcare systems, and how systems from multiple levels can work together to improve screening outcomes.
Developing and running a robust lung cancer screening program is no simple task. Given the multidisciplinary expertise needed through the entire screening process, a high level of coordination and collaboration is required across sectors and healthcare networks.
Standardized screening protocol and scan analysis; service coordination; program supervision and evaluation; data reporting and management; patient navigation; and patient as well as provider education efforts are just a few of the many key tenets of a high-quality lung cancer screening program. While these responsibilities are demanding for any healthcare system, the complexity becomes especially burdensome among smaller clinics and fledgling screening centers. Limited access to financial resources, information technology, trained personnel, CT scanners, and streamlined protocol among small centers consistently pose a difficult challenge to providing lung cancer screening.
Larger and more well-funded cancer centers typically have the established infrastructural resources needed to run high-functioning screening programs. However, smaller safety-net clinics and community health centers (CHCs), which can include Federally Qualified Health Centers and Veterans Heath Administrations, can face a number of challenges that make managing and committing to a lung cancer screening program far more difficult.
In today’s podcast on Screen the Lungs!, I interview Dr. Christopher Lathan about how robust partnerships between community health centers and larger academic cancer centers can serve to improve cancer screening program implementation at the community level.
Dr. Christopher Lathan, MD, MS, MPH, is a thoracic oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where he serves as the Chief Clinical Access and Equity Officer on the Institute’s Executive Leadership Team.
Dr. Lathan also serves as the Faculty Director of the Institute’s Cancer Care Equity Program, a DFCI research group focused on reducing disparities in cancer outcomes for historically marginalized groups and translating cancer equity research into robust interventions.