Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths for men and women combined and is expected to cause approximately 52,980 deaths during 2021, according to cancer.org. PiCS-AR!, funded by a $2.5 million, five-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hopes to combat this in counties with low screening rates with the help of primary care clinics using evidence-based interventions. Three partners fuel PiCS-AR!’s mission.
The Community Health and Education Division of UAMS’ Department of Family and Preventive Medicine houses the project. Director and PiCS-AR! creator Alysia Dubriske, M.Ed, is the principal investigator, joined by Marybeth Curtis, BSN, who manages the program, and Jessica Presley and Rosario Silva are the evaluators. Andrea Hooten, MBA, is the communications coordinator, and Colleen Lassiter is business coordinator.
Clinic Quality Improvement
Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care Practice Transformation (AFMC PT) focuses on quality improvement, offering expertise in cancer screening measures and practice transformation. The AFMC PT staff meet with the health care clinics regularly and provide support for gathering/abstracting quality colorectal cancer screening data and performing routine data validation. They offer ideas and support change through implementation of evidence-based interventions, and supporting activities.
1st Choice Healthcare is our initial clinical partner with 25 providers in six locations across northeast Arkansas. Mid-Delta Health Systems joined with PiCS-AR! in summer of 2022 with clinics in Clarendon and Dewitt and a planned clinic in Stuttgart.
These clinics serve a mostly rural population with lower incomes, lower education levels and a lower colorectal cancer screening rate than much of the state. The clinics have seen growth of up to seven percent more screenings than a year ago.
Mid-Delta Health Systems Joins PiCS-AR!
UAMS’ Partnerships for Colorectal Cancer Screening in Arkansas (PiCS-AR!) recently joined with Mid-Delta Health System to expand the number of clinics working to reduce late-stage colorectal cancer in the state. Mid-Delta has a clinic in Clarendon and DeWitt, which are in Monroe and Arkansas counties.
PiCS-AR! is a project of the UAMS Department of Family and Preventive Medicine’s Community Health and Education Division. In 2020, the division received a $2.5 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to increase colorectal cancer screening and reduce late-stage colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.
“We thought Mid-Delta would be a good partner because their demographics reflect those at high risk for colorectal cancer,” said Marybeth Curtis, BSN, Program Manager for the grant. “Looking at the counties they serve, they have some of the highest rates of cancer in the state. Also, the percentage of uninsured at each clinic is 12% at DeWitt and 9% in Clarendon, which hinders patients from getting a colonoscopy, the gold standard for colorectal cancer screening.”
Curtis said the rate of colorectal cancer screening in both the Clarendon and Dewitt clinics is low with Dewitt at 29.5% and Clarendon at 44%. The national goal is 80% as set by the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable. Adults should be screened for colorectal cancer beginning at age 45.
PiCS-AR! team member, Stacey George, APRN, with Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care, works directly with PiCS-AR! clinics to maximize their electronic medical records to flag patients 45 and older who need screening. She also coaches the patient navigators on best practices and monitors how well the clinics are faring with screening rates.
“Mid-Delta Health Systems wanted to join PICS-AR! to increase their colorectal screenings and get our patients the care needed in the early stage of diagnosis,” said Monica Lindley, CEO of Mid-Delta Health Systems.
PiCS-AR! has also been working with 1st Choice Healthcare in northeast Arkansas since the project began late in 2020. Since 1st Choice joined the partnership, they’ve seen a 9% increase overall in colorectal cancer screening at their six clinics.
F.I.T. Just Takes a Bit
1st Choice Healthcare staff and providers promoted the “F.I.T. Just Takes a Bit” campaign in March as part of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. They created a fun atmosphere and handed out F.I.T. kits for every eligible patient. F.I.T. kits are less invasive than colonoscopies, easy for patients to use and are effective in testing for colorectal cancer.