Hereditary Cancer Screening at Virginia Women’s Center

“I am so proud to be a part of the team that implemented this program at Virginia Women’s Center over the last year and a half. We are screening more women than ever before, and that means more opportunities to prevent cancer, implement screening plans for earlier detection, or give reassurance. I enjoy meeting with women after their results are available to provide an individualized plan which can be implemented by their primary gynecologist.”   ~Rachel N. Kreis, MD

Empowering Women’s Health: Virginia Women’s Center’s Revolutionary Hereditary Cancer Screening Program
Virginia Women’s Center (VWC) has taken a significant stride in enhancing women’s healthcare with its pioneering Hereditary Cancer Screening Program. We’ve diligently screened patients for hereditary cancer for over a decade, providing in-house counseling and testing. However, the process faced several challenges, including identifying at-risk patients and the financial and time constraints associated with additional visits. In response, we developed a streamlined approach to address these barriers and increase accessibility to essential genetic testing.

The Old Program: Challenges and Solutions
The previous program involved providers reviewing patients’ medical histories, sometimes supplemented by paper screeners, to identify potential candidates for hereditary cancer testing. However, this approach faced challenges, such as accurately identifying at-risk patients, the need for additional visits, and expertise in understanding the complex landscape of insurance coverage. We recognized these hurdles and set out to create a more efficient and patient-friendly process.

The New Program: A Seamless Experience
In the revamped program, patients scheduled for their yearly well-woman gynecological exams receive an automated text message with a link to a user-friendly online screening tool. This tool allows patients to self-assess their hereditary cancer risk in simple, patient-friendly language. After completing the screening, patients instantly receive information about their potential eligibility for testing. This data is integrated into the patient’s Electronic Health Record (EHR) and becomes part of the intake process conducted by medical assistants and nurses. During the well-woman gynecological exam, providers discuss the screening results and offer testing options and in-office blood draws, ensuring a comprehensive and personalized approach to patient care.

Remarkable Results: Transforming Lives
The impact of this innovative program has been astounding. In just 18 months since its implementation, we’ve witnessed a substantial increase in patient engagement and identified significantly more cases of hereditary cancer mutations. Since we launched the new program workflow, more than 38,000 online screening assessments have been completed, and 11,050 patients met the criteria for testing. Impressively, 41% of eligible patients chose to pursue testing, leading to the identification of 345 women with positive gene mutations. These remarkable numbers demonstrate the effectiveness of the new approach, which identified nearly twice the number of at-risk women in 18 short months compared to the previous 12-year period.

“I have three loved ones battling cancer right now, so this project is near and dear to my heart.  Our improved Hereditary Cancer Screening Program empowers women with information, hopefully even before cancer has formed.”   ~Wesley Ralston, Director of Health Informatics