Combatting colorectal cancer with technology

(NC)—Last year an estimated 9,100 Canadians died as a result of colorectal disease, making it the second–leading cause of cancer death in Canada. Despite this, colorectal cancer is a highly preventable and curable form of cancer. When detected early it can be easily treated, allowing patients to live a long and healthy life.

Now doctors are turning to electronic medical records (EMR) technology to help them spot diseases like colorectal cancer sooner. Using software like Nightingale On Demand, doctors no longer have to comb through thick medical files to find important patient information. Instead, everything they need to know is instantly available online, and in easy–to–read print–outs.

“We use EMR to track patients who are overdue for tests like fecal occult blood testing (FOBT), which is a screening method for the early detection of colorectal cancer, making it easy for us to send out reminders,” says Dr. Michelle Greiver, a family physician based in Southern Ontario. “In addition, we have point–of–care alerts that all our team members can see. That way when a patient sees any provider in the practice, they know to run a specific test or exam.”

In 2008, FOBT screening was added to the health maintenance reminders within the Nightingale On Demand EMR, and presently Dr. Greiver's compliance rate is at 80%, which is far above the provincial compliance rate of 25 to 28% (statistic from Cancer Care Ontario).

Electronic medical records also make treatment easier. Doctors can easily map patient health trends so that signs of potential health risks can be identified sooner and addressed quickly. Instant reminders mean important medical exams, such as colorectal screening appointments, will not be missed. This also means colorectal cancer and other preventable illness, can be caught sooner and treated as needed.

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