Lung cancer screening is not a new topic. 160,000 people die in the United States each year due to the ravages of lung cancer disease. Many clinics and hospitals have attempted to configure models for effective lung cancer screening programs in the past. These programs were often met with criticism based upon the fact that they used extensive radiation exposure, charged excessive fees and were instituted with little if any scientific evidence to support their utility. That has all changed over the past few years. The National Lung Screening Trial began an exhaustive, large and randomized controlled trial study in 2002. This trial was tasked with testing the utility of a formal screening program in decreasing the mortality rate of lung cancer patients. The study formally ended in 2010.
The National Lung Screening Study, for the first time, provided solid evidence that screening for lung cancer in 55 year old to 74 year old heavy smokers (30 pack-year history) using a low dose CT can result in a 20% lower chance of dying from lung cancer than those who simply received chest radiographs for screening. Younger smokers did not generate the same benefit statistically. Additionally, there was insignificant evidence to demonstrate a clear benefit to nonsmokers who have been exposed to extensive second hand smoke.
The goal is to find cancer in this high risk, heavy smoking history population at a time in the disease cycle that will permit a cure. These findings provide encouraging news for this patient population and for the physicians tasked with monitoring and maintaining their health. In large part, due to the affiliation that exists between Foundation Radiology Group and ACMH Hospital, this screening program will be available to ACMH’s patient population immediately—monitored by one of Foundation’s fellowship trained pulmonary radiologists.
Through engaging in a collaborative approach with ACMH Hospital and Foundation radiologists, referring physicians will have at their disposal an effective and innovative program that will allow cutting edge lung cancer screening for a community hospital. The lung screening program was developed to prevent metastasis and provide an opportunity for survival in the face of a disease which has been historically difficult to treat. This creative endeavor will allow other facilities in the Foundation network of hospitals to benefit from this innovation. This collaborative approach is at the heart of Foundation Radiology Group’s FRIENDS program.
FRIENDS stands for: Foundation Radiology Interactive Education for Necessity, Development and Strategy. The program is an innovative approach to the practice of radiology in today’s changing and demanding climate. Foundation Radiology Group firmly believes that radiology service is not defined by a “read”— Radiology Service is not just a piece of paper (a report) stuffed under a closed door. Superb Radiology service must focus on delivering high quality patient care and this approach is anchored by a laser-like focus aimed at developing relationships—Foundation Radiology Group believes that these relationships drive excellence in care delivery.
Embedded in the Foundation FRAMEWORKS implementation program are opportunities and mandates that allow the physicians supporting the community hospital to get to know the dynamic team that constitutes Foundation Radiology. The onsite radiology physicians are chosen for skill sets that include excellent radiology skills, however, great attention is given to ensure they are also fully integrated in the comprehensive care paradigm of the hospital. Additionally, paramount to the goal of care excellence is ensuring that the community physicians also benefit from adequate time and exposure to radiology subspecialists –thus enhancing the important service line connections that will build trust and collegiality. These interactions are fostered in an ongoing fashion to allow a fertile milieu for physician-physician relationships to flourish and expand –promoting a positive attitude about radiology utilization and access. Any radiologist can interpret films and go home – non-interactive radiology is now a thing of the past. We have entered the Elegant Radiology era that defines Foundation Radiology Group.
James W. Backstrom, MD, is the current Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for Foundation Radiology Group. A nationally renowned, fellowship trained neuroradiologist and pediatric neuroradiologist, Dr. Backstrom was recently named one of the top radiologists in his field by Pittsburgh Magazine in its annual “Best Doctors” issue. For more information about Foundation Radiology Group visit www.foundationradiologygroup.com or call us at (412) 223-2272.