Background: Our team implemented a survivorship needs assessment in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to determine the specific needs of the cancer survivors in a specified geographic area. Our initial goal was to understand and assess the needs of these patients to develop programming to support and better serve this population. Our initial findings suggested patients would like more information and education electronically as well as through digital media rather than in person for several reasons. including convenience, patient preference, and preferred educational learning styles. Armed with these findings, we developed digital services in 2016 to further bridge some of the gaps in our large Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex (14 hospitals across 9000 square miles).
Objectives: Develop digital services to bridge some of the gaps identified in our survivorship needs assessment in our large Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Navigation barriers include a large patient caseload covering a large geographic area. Patient barriers include varying reading levels, sensory impairment issues such as hearing and vision, as well as limited access to information.
Methods: The survivorship team has gathered and analyzed data from our Survivorship Needs Assessment to better understand the needs of our cancer population. Results include patients disclosing that they would like more digital content versus in-person delivery. Other local data collection results consist of a National Cancer Survivors Day digital media campaign showing an increase in views/likes/reactions digitally versus in-person attendance; comparing paper assessments versus utilizing digital assessment via SurveyMonkey; communication outcomes, which include calling patients versus calling, e-mailing, and Mailchimp newsletter delivery. We have also increased patient access to education and community resources via blogs through our digital content initiative.
Results: Since implementing the digital services, we have seen an increase in the following: communication opportunities with our patients (e-mailing, texting, e-newsletter, social media campaigns), patient access to verified education (writing blogs, sharing vetted links through e-newsletter, providing links to education via e-mail, and research [SurveyMonkey]). The open rate for our patient newsletter (>40%) is higher than the healthcare industry average (around 15%). After implementing SurveyMonkey, our Survivorship Needs Assessment experienced a 91% growth in response (vs hard-copy surveying). Our hospital systems’ National Cancer Survivors Day campaign—which originated as in-person events—increased from a couple hundred participants to reach thousands on our healthcare systems’ social media pages (2017-18 combined reach: 38,492 people).
Conclusion: Technology has changed the landscape in how people receive, understand, and access information, especially in healthcare. By utilizing digital platforms, we are able to break down patient and navigator barriers in our metroplex. We have been able to meaningfully connect with patients in a large geographic area, provide increased access to education and resources, and ultimately create a more comprehensive survivorship program.
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