The Community Network for Cancer Prevention creates patient education materials in various formats (computerized, print, audio, and video) to be disseminated throughout the Harris Health System in its 12 community health centers and two hospitals, as well as through our collaborating organizations. The Harris Health System provides medical services to qualified underinsured and uninsured residents in Harris County, Texas. Currently, our patient education efforts are focused on breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening.
Despite the availability of effective primary and secondary prevention interventions for breast, cervical,and colorectal cancer, a large proportion of patients eligible for these services in the Harris Health System system are not receiving recommended screening. The tools we developed serve to instruct patients about the different screening methods for each type of cancer and the importance of regular screening for early detection.
Our approach to bringing patient education and cancer screening services to the underserved residents of Harris County has two main objectives:
- Culturally and linguistically appropriate patient education materials for underserved residents and training materials for community health workers.
- Service delivery that engages the community in identifying needs and barriers to cancer screening services.
To fulfill these objectives, we rely on the electronic medical record (EMR) system in the Harris Health System. As part of the clinic work flow, health practitioners are alerted through health-maintenance modules in the EMRs of patients to identify those eligible and due for colorectal and cervical cancer screening. Once a patient has been identified, he or she is asked to view in the examination room computer appropriate educational videos before seeing a physician. Case managers then track the number of screenings ordered to ensure that patient follow-up on positive results is timely.