New York Clinics Make It Easier for Doctors to Screen for Breast and Cervical Cancer

Photo of a doctor talking to a patient

Any staff member can talk to patients about the importance of cancer screening and encourage them to get the recommended tests.

When patients visit a health clinic, they often have limited time and many things to talk about. Doctors have to identify preventive care needs like cancer screening quickly. Having a process in place to remind doctors to talk to their patients about cancer screening tests can help clinics serve their patients better.

The New York State Department of Healthexternal icon helps make this happen with funding from CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. Since 2016, the department has supported the Institute for Family Health,external icon which serves the Hudson Valley region and New York City. The Institute is a Federally Qualified Health Center, which means it serves many patients who have low incomes and no health insurance—and who may be overdue for cancer screenings.

From 2016, the health department worked with the Institute’s New Paltz and Stevenson clinics to improve the process for reminding doctors which patients need to be screened for cancer. Each day, staff members at both clinics give doctors a report. The report lists all patients who have an appointment that day and the preventive care services they need, including cancer screening tests.

When patients arrive for their appointment, staff members also look at their health record to see what services they need. Any staff member can talk to patients about the importance of cancer screening and encourage them to get the recommended tests. The doctors make the final recommendations and order the tests.

“All clinic team members, including primary care physicians, nurses, care managers, and administrative staff, can play a role in educating patients on the importance of getting screened for cancer,” said Shawn Campbell, New Paltz Cancer Care Navigator.

By involving more staff members, both clinics were able to screen more patients for breast and cervical cancer. At the New Paltz clinic, the percentage of women who were up-to-date with breast cancer screening rose from 43% in 2017 to 52% in 2020. The cervical cancer screening rate went up from 42% in 2016 to 59% in 2020. At the Stevenson clinic, the breast cancer screening rate rose from 55% in 2017 to 62% in 2020. The cervical cancer screening rate went up from 62% in 2016 to 75% in 2020.

Page last reviewed: June 2, 2021