Mason General Hospital Olympic Physicians has once again been recognized for excellence in patient care and outstanding achievement in advancing community health care. Qualis Health, one of the nation’s leading population health management organizations, recently honored MGH Olympic Physicians with the Award of Excellence in Healthcare Quality for its work in Improving the Rate of Colon Cancer Screening in a Rural Underserved Population – Patients 50 – 75 Years Old.
This recognition was given for the Clinic’s intensive work to provide screenings to reduce the risk of colon cancer for all patients 50 to 75 years of age in the Hospital District, regardless of their health insurance status or ability to pay for cancer screening. Through multiple outreach efforts and partnering with patients, the aim was to provide education and screening to lower the risk and incidence of colon cancer in our community. Olympic Physicians was able to implement a number of resources, by means of tracking patients from their medical records, using a reminder system to call patients for testing and follow-up, mass-mailing home-screening test kits to patients, and lowering health care costs with sliding fee schedules and uncompensated care programs.
“Our goal was to educate the community on how to prevent colon cancer and assist patients in choosing the colon cancer screening test that fits their needs,” said Mark L. Schlauderaff, M.D., board certified internal medicine. Olympic Physicians trained their medical assistants to educate patients about the various cancer screening tests available and assist them in deciding which method to use. Medical assistants were able to track patients from their electronic medical record updates and reach out to them at home to answer questions and discuss their care. Some patients could opt to receive a test kit in the mail to do the at-home test, with a follow-up from the medical assistant. Others would schedule appointments for a clinical colonoscopy.
Olympic Physicians was able to meet the three-part aim of the National Quality Strategy: Better Care, Healthy People/Communities, and Lower Cost of Care. Their ‘patient-first’ model of care and specialized staff training made a difference in detecting polyps before the potential development of colon cancer. This project was voluntarily undertaken by Olympic Physicians in 2014, when the facts prompted them to accept the challenge of reducing the incidence of colon cancer in our community using their award-winning, patient-centered Medical Home model of care.
- Mason County is underserved – It has a low provider-to-population ratio, and a low rate of screening for colon cancer (only 22 percent when the project began in 2014).
- Patients who are educated and routinely screened for colon cancer reduce the risk of cancer and its incidence.
- Colon cancer is a preventable form of cancer when detected early.
The data speaks for itself. Many more patients are now getting screened for colon cancer ? an increase from 22 percent in 2014 to its present 62.7 percent ? and this project has played a big part in that improvement. The costs associated with colon cancer treatment benefit the community, and Olympic Physicians continues to lower costs associated with screening by establishing a sliding income-based fee, finding lower-cost clinics for patients needing colonoscopies, and providing information about uncompensated care programs. They introduced further cost savings by training medical assistants to understand the types of screenings available so they can order the appropriate test, track the order until the test is completed, and update patient records.
Screening catches colonic polyps before they can develop into cancer, saving patients the stress of a cancer diagnosis and the expense of treatment. Prevention is key, and Olympic Physicians continues toward that goal by striving for excellence in patient-centered care. The Qualis Award of Excellence was presented to MGH Olympic Physicians at the 2017 Northwest Patient Safety Conference in early-May at the Seattle Marriott.
Olympic Physicians is a full-service family health clinic that joined Mason General Hospital & Family of Clinics in 2013. Led by Mark L. Schlauderaff, M.D., board certified in Internal Medicine, and Pam Schlauderaff, MSM; the Olympic Physicians team includes Rebecca Hendryx, M.D.; Allen Millard, M.D.; In Kyu Yoo, M.D.; Jennifer Nelson, ARNP; and Physician Assistants Lisa Dell, Katie Hackney, and KC Graham. They are located at 237 Professional Way in Shelton, and are open Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed for lunch noon to 1 p.m.). For Clinic information go to www.MasonGeneral.com, or call (360) 426-2500.
MGH&FC now offers Virtual Care 24/7, is approved by the Joint Commission, and is a licensed and accredited acute care hospital with a level four emergency trauma designation. For more information on Virtual Care or to find a health care provider, go to www.MasonGeneral.com.