It used to be that a patient’s journey from undergoing a routine screening mammogram to receiving a breast cancer diagnosis took weeks or even a month.
Mercy Health’s “I Know” program, however, reduces the time between breast cancer screening and potential follow-up appointments, offering mammograms, diagnostic imaging and biopsies all on the same day. Mammogram and diagnostic imaging results are shared the same day as well. Biopsy results are typically delivered the next day, or within two days if the procedure was performed late in the afternoon.
Launched at The Jewish Hospital — Mercy Health in 2017, “I Know” is currently available therel, with plans to add similar programs to other Cincinnati-area Mercy Health hospitals.
“The goal of the ‘I Know’ program is to condense that waiting period to as small a timeframe as possible,” explains Jacquelyn Palmer, M.D., FACS, who specializes in surgical breast oncology at Mercy Health. “We want to get patients who may be diagnosed with cancer or another problem of the breast into their treatment plan sooner rather than later and minimize the anxiety patients may have between each phase.”
In the not-so-distant past, it could take doctors a day or two to read mammogram images before they called patients to explain any abnormalities they discovered. If diagnostic imaging was required, that appointment might not occur for another few days or weeks. If diagnostic imaging continued to show areas of concern, a biopsy appointment would be scheduled — again, days or possibly weeks later. Patients finally learned whether or not they had breast cancer after receiving biopsy results, which also took several days.
The American Cancer Society recommends an annual screening mammogram for women over 40 at average risk. This is a routine imaging process designed to detect any abnormalities.
Women in the “I Know” program receive their results shortly after the screening. Participants with abnormal results move directly to the diagnostic imaging process, which can include additional imaging such as compression magnification and ultrasound. Results are returned within hours. If doctors order further imaging or a biopsy, those procedures are also offered during the same appointment.
Biopsy results are available the next day if the procedure is done early in the day. Results will be provided within two days if a biopsy is performed late in the afternoon. Should the biopsy detect cancer, the patient can schedule an appointment with a surgeon.
Traditional screening schedules are available for women who want to wait between tests or don’t have the time to do them all in one day.
“In the era of goal-directed care, ‘I Know’ enables patients to take control of their own care in the best way they can by allowing them to opt into this program,” Dr. Palmer says. “I think it’s a great program, and we’re happy to offer it to patients.”
Are you due for your yearly mammogram? If so, learn more about the empowering advantages of participating in the “I Know” program. To schedule your mammogram appointment with Mercy Health, visit mercy.com or call 513-95-MERCY.