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Diffusion of Excellence Shark Tank Winner Impacts Lung Screening Guidelines

June 22, 2021


Takeaway: Work from this VA/HSR&D research team was recently cited by the VHA National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (NCP) regarding their decision to change Veterans' eligibility for lung cancer screening. As of 2020, the VA Portland Health Care System Lung Cancer Screening Program (LCSP) had received more than 3,500 consults; screened approximately 2,076 Veterans; and detected and treated 62 patients with early-stage lung cancer.

Lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer-related deaths among Veterans. High-quality lung cancer screening (LCS) reduces lung cancer mortality. VA leaders recently selected Christopher G. Slatore, MD, to present an innovation regarding lung cancer screening during their “Shark Tank” competition, in which he and his team competed against more than 400 other VA health innovators and were selected to deploy their life-saving program to help Veterans across VA. 

VA’s Diffusion of Excellence Promising Practices facilitates the work of employees who are passionate about solving difficult challenges faced by the VA healthcare system. It also provides VA investigators with an opportunity to replicate and scale their practices further, while elevating their platform to all levels of leadership for buy-in.

An investigator with HSR&D’s Center to Improve Veteran Involvement in Care and a pulmonary/critical care physician with the VA Portland Healthcare System (VAPORHCS), Dr. Slatore helps lead the VISN 20 Centralized Lung Cancer Screening Program(CLCSP). The CLCSP program is based on a successful program at VAPORHCS that provides Veterans with a highly inclusive, safe, Veteran-centric process that increases access to life-saving annual lung cancer screenings and minimizes the burden for primary care providers. The goal of the CLCSP is to enable all VISN 20 Veterans to have systematic and equitable access to high-quality lung cancer screening processes. In addition, as part of the Shark Tank competition, the VAPORHCS LCSP will help bring high-quality lung cancer screening to the Pittsburgh VA Health Care System.

Lung Cancer Screening: VA recommends offering annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography to adults aged 50-80 years who have a 20 or more pack-year history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years and have a life expectancy of more than five years.

Dr. Slatore received an HSR&D Career Development award and focused on lung cancer screening. He also is currently leading several projects on the prevention, detection, and treatment of tobacco-related lung diseases. He is working to develop innovative approaches to treatment that will improve patient outcomes. In addition to VA funding, Dr. Slatore’s research has been funded by the Radiation Oncology Institute, the American Cancer Society, and the Oregon Health & Science University Knight Cancer Institute.

Impacts

Thus far, the VAPORHCS Lung Cancer Screening Program has received more than 3,500 consults; screened approximately 2,076 Veterans; and detected and treated 62 patients with early-stage lung cancer. The program is of critical importance because Veterans have higher lung cancer mortality rates than non-Veterans due to both military exposures and higher-than-average rates of cigarette smoking.

Further, work from this research team was recently cited by the VHA National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (NCP) (intranet only: vaww.prevention.va.gov/CPS/Lung_Cancer_Screening.asp) regarding their decision to change Veterans' eligibility for lung cancer screening.

Partners

Dr. Slatore and his team collaborate with VISN 20 (Northwest Network) and VA’s Diffusion of Excellence and will help bring high-quality lung cancer screening to the Pittsburgh VA Health Care System.

Publications

Golden S, Ono S, Thakurta S, Wiener R, Iaccarino J, Melzer A, Datta S, and Slatore C. “I’m putting my trust in their hands”: A qualitative study of patients’ views on clinician initial communication about lung cancer screening. CHEST. April 2020;158(3):1260-1267.

Melzer A, Golden S, Ono S, Datta S, Crothers K, and Slatore C. “What exactly is shared decision-making?” A qualitative study of shared decision-making in lung cancer screening. Journal of General Internal Medicine. February 2020;35(2):546-553.

Melzer A, Golden S, Ono S, Datta S, Triplette M, and Slatore C. “We just never have enough time”: Clinician views of lung cancer screening process and implementation. Annual American Thoracic Society. June 4, 2020. Online ahead of print.

Miranda L, Datta S, Melzer A, Wiener R, Davis J, Tong B, Golden S, and Slatore C. Rationale and design of the lung cancer screening implementation. Evaluation of patient-centered care study. Annual American Thoracic Society. October 14, 2017;(10):1581-1590.


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