Primary care is the foundation of our health care system and essential to better health outcomes and lower costs. This is evident in a recent training and technical assistance project Primary Care Development Corporation (PCDC) recently completed with the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH).
In 2021, PCDC worked with four community health centers in New Jersey to increase the cancer screening rate (up to an 11 percent increase within one Central NJ health center) through an innovative mix of provider resources, training, and patient education – ultimately improving health outcomes and saving lives.
The New Jersey Cancer Education and Early Detection (NJCEED) Program provides comprehensive outreach, education, and screening services for breast, cervical, colorectal, and prostate cancers and reached out to PCDC for support in improving Prostate (PSA) and Colorectal Cancer (CRC) screening and referral rates. Additionally, the program hoped to strengthen collaboration between regional coalitions and their surrounding Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) to increase referrals and enhance care coordination for screenings using team-based care and quality improvement (QI) models.
Over 12 months, PCDC conducted trainings, webinars, and technical assistance designed to support practices to improve their internal workflows and leverage external resources, such as community-based partners. In one instance, PCDC worked with a participating FQHC in Central New Jersey to transform their population health activities to improve their cancer screening referrals and increase the rate of access to free or low-cost early detectable screenings for their patient populations.
Under PCDC’s guidance, these practices conducted more cancer screenings overall, beyond PSA and CRC, to include breast and cervical cancers. Within the Central New Jersey FQHC, there was an 11% increase in CRC screenings in patients, including free screenings for uninsured patients.
“PCDC is proud to have worked with the NJDOH on improving their processes to increase early cancer detection,” said Isaac Kastenbaum, Managing Director of PCDC’s Clinical and Quality Partners team. “Through our collaboration, we noticed a measurable difference in vital cancer screenings among patients who would have otherwise not been able to receive such care.”
“Through the Cancer Screening Quality Improvement Project, the Department was able to galvanize partnerships across Cancer Prevention and Control Partners to increase the demand for cancer screenings. The Virtual Learning Series provided valuable and adaptable information tailored to increasing cancer screening efficacy in participating agencies,” said Loletha Johnson, Program Manager, Office of Cancer Control and Prevent, Division of Community Health Services at the New Jersey Department of Health.
PCDC collaborated with the NJCEED, FQHCs and Regional Chronic Disease Coalition partners to create innovative dissemination products to enhance educational resources accessible to program recipients. Workflows were established to improve screening processes between service providers and patient navigation. Ms. Johnson noted, “Overall, the project was a success as agencies learned new methods for improving breast, cervical, and colorectal screening.”