October 20, 2014

Pledging to cut colorectal cancer deaths in half

PASADENA, Calif. — Kaiser Permanente Southern California announced today at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Quality Care Symposium in Boston, that it is committed to cutting the number of colorectal cancer deaths in half by 2023.

Colorectal cancer is the second deadliest cancer in the United States, yet 1 in 3 adults are not adequately screened. Colon cancer, when discovered early, is highly treatable. It affects men and women of all racial and ethnic groups, and is most often found in people 50 years or older.

Kaiser Permanente Southern California, a non-profit integrated health care organization that serves 3.7 million diverse members, plans to reduce colorectal mortality by 50 percent in the next decade, from its baseline measurement of 13.8 deaths/100,000 to 6.9 deaths/100,000, by focusing on the entire continuum of care — prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment and survivorship.

"Setting this bold goal is really unprecedented, but we are in a unique position to be able to achieve it," said Michael Kanter, MD, medical director, quality and clinical analysis, Southern California Permanente Medical Group. "We're already consistently engaging in successful practices and using effective tools that will help us accomplish our mission." Kaiser Permanente Southern California’s five-year colon cancer survival rate of 75 percent is 10 percent higher than the national average.

At Kaiser Permanente, care for members is focused on their total health and guided by a health care team of providers — physicians, nurses, medical assistants, pharmacists and receptionists — to address patient needs. Bringing together the power of the electronic health record system, Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect®, and the care management outreach approach empowers clinicians and staff to better utilize the one-on-one time they have with each patient, known as “Proactive Office Encounters.”

This practice is a part of the Complete Care model developed at Kaiser Permanente, which leverages the heath care organization’s technology, integrated system and dedicated care teams. The result has been a sharp increase in colon-cancer screenings, ensuring that patients with complex chronic conditions receive proactive support and the follow up they need to maintain optimal health. Results from this collaborative approach are featured in the November 2013 issue of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

“Kaiser Permanente is a leader in the fight against colorectal cancer. We will meet our goal by optimizing treatment protocols and providing evidence-based, highly effective cancer care,” said Joanne Schottinger, MD, colorectal cancer care champion and oncologist, Kaiser Permanente Southern California. “We want to help patients get and stay healthy.”



By the end of 2013, colon-cancer screening rates among Kaiser Permanente Southern California members rose to 83 percent, due in part to the success of the regional outreach fecal immunochemical or FIT test program (a stool test that members can take at home) and the screenings that took place at medical centers during the March colorectal cancer awareness campaign.

The organization expanded its safety net program this year for early detection to include an initiative that ensures patients with signs of rectal bleeding or laboratory findings suggestive of iron deficiency anemia promptly get a colonoscopy.

Additionally, a multi-disciplinary team of clinicians searched for more opportunities to improve care by reviewing the records of patients who died from advanced colon cancer. The team identified opportunities for more timely and coordinated care as well as circumstances that called for more aggressive treatment.

Anticipated expansion of the initiative to reduce mortality will have the team serve as the steering committee for oversight and monitoring of the many interdependent plans in place to improve care at each Kaiser Permanente Southern California medical center.

Kaiser Permanente, in line with the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations, encourages its members age 50 and older to get screened for colon cancer.

About Kaiser Permanente Southern California

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high quality, affordable health care services to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 3.7 million members in Southern California. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health.