Between 2020–2021, more than 11 percent of women missed mammograms compared to 2018-2019 rates
Patients managed under value-based care programs were nearly two times more likely to get mammograms than patients that were not enrolled in such programs
Arlington, Va. — (BUSINESS WIRE)—May 17, 2022—CareJourney, a pioneer in value-based healthcare analytics, today announced a new data analysis showing declines in critical breast cancer screenings between 2020-2021, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, patients cared for by physicians participating in value-based care (VBC) arrangements were far more likely to be screened for breast cancer than those who were not enrolled in a VBC program.
The CareJourney data show an 11.06 percent decline in mammograms in 2020 and 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to the preceding two years. In 2018-2019, an average of 4,513,772 women received a mammogram, between 2020-2021; the annual average was reduced to 4,014,750.
However, the data also show that Medicare FFS patients enrolled in value-based care arrangements, such as an accountable care organization (ACO), were 1.8 times1 more likely to receive mammograms during the COVID-19 pandemic than patients not enrolled in such value-based arrangements. The results are consistent with pre-pandemic periods, where patients aligned to VBCs also saw higher rates of screening.
“These critical screenings can be life changing, or even life-saving, which is why they are such a fundamental component of and incentive for VBC programs,” said Dan Ross, CEO of CareJourney. “During the height of the pandemic, when there were serious barriers to accessing screenings, women cared for by providers in value based care arrangements were more likely to carry on with routine mammograms, potentially making better patient outcomes more likely.”
Monitoring patient care trends is critical so that health systems and insurers can mobilize to support patients, according to Aneesh Chopra, President of CareJourney.
“The data show that we could be facing another crisis in women’s health in the coming years if we don’t take proactive measures to identify women at risk and get them back on schedule for mammograms and other routine screenings,” Chopra said. “Recent improvements in cancer patient outcomes have come in part from timely preventive cancer screenings, such as mammograms. Health systems and insurers need to use data to quickly uncover other potential impacts on patient care that may have been impacted by the global pandemic.”
This year, more than 287,000 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, if diagnosed early and treated before it spreads, the five-year survival rate for localized breast cancer is 99 percent.
Prevent Cancer Foundation, the only U.S.-based nonprofit organization focused solely on cancer prevention and early detection, also noted a drop in pandemic mammograms in a survey released in late 2021. Now that COVID-19 vaccines are more readily available, those surveyed indicated they were planning to get back on track by prioritizing scheduling breast screenings. Unfortunately, early 2022 survey results found that 45% of people with a routine medical appointment or test scheduled, did not plan to go.
“Scheduling a mammogram is one of the most important steps women can take to prioritize their health,” said Jody Hoyos, President and COO of the Prevent Cancer Foundation. “CareJourney’s analysis highlights the drop in mammograms during the pandemic, reminding women that annual visits with their health care provider can play a critical role in detecting and treating cancer early. The earlier cancer is found, the better the odds are for successful treatment.”
Encouraging screenings aligns with the stated goals of the Biden Administration’s recently reignited Cancer Moonshot program, which stresses the importance of cancer screenings, especially those delayed or put off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. U.S. Representative Nikema Williams has also added her voice to the fight, encouraging Americans to schedule missed cancer screenings. The Georgia congresswoman is passionate about increasing screening rates because of her mother’s battle with cancer.
“I lost my mama way too soon to stage IV colon cancer, and I cared for her in the last four years of her life,” Congresswoman Williams said. “We can help prevent other families going through what I went through if we get cancer screenings back on the books. This is especially important for Black Americans. Out of every racial or ethnic group, we have the highest death rate and the shortest survival for most cancers. All of us have to make sure screenings missed during the COVID-19 pandemic are rescheduled because early detection saves lives.”
The CareJourney breast cancer screening analysis was performed by using 100 percent of Medicare FFS population data (Part A, B, and D). CareJourney has access to additional data sources covering over 270 million lives, including the Medicare FFS, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid and commercial populations.
CareJourney is the healthcare industry’s best source of clinically-relevant analytics for Market Provider, and Patient intelligence. CareJourney’s cloud-based analytics platform helps value-based care organizations build and grow networks, improve provider performance, identify leakage and strengthen referrals, and better manage at-risk populations. CareJourney’s Data-as-a-Service offering enables ACOs, health systems, payers, and HCIT vendors supercharge their solutions and internal data lakes with high-value insights out of expansive population claims data.
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