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Toby's Take: Text MAMMO

person texting

June 20, 2023

Remember that name you couldn’t remember in a meeting this morning? The one that just hit you lying in bed at 11 p.m.?

Or the note you scratched down on the back of one of those cards that fall out of magazines? It’s nowhere to be found now.

In this overstimulated, nonstop world, it’s no wonder we forget things. Even the most important things.

Example: We know the very best way to treat cancer is to detect it early. For women, a mammogram is peace of mind at least and a lifesaver at best.

It began with simple things like opening evenings and then weekends ... We were the first people to use text reminders for patients. Dr. Onalisa Winblad

Division Director, Breast Imaging and Radiology

Scheduling made simple

At The University of Kansas Health System, we’re not shy about saying we have the best team and the most highly advanced technology to treat breast cancer – first, second or third opinions.

“I think we've done a better job of that than almost any other health system in the city and the region. We've been on the leading edge,” said Onalisa Winblad, MD, division director of breast imaging and radiology for the health system. I wrote about her when I first started this blog more than a year ago.

She knows all this means just about nothing if patients don’t actually get screened. Years ago, when Dr. Winblad’s team became the first in the health system to implement online scheduling, her main objective was to break down any barriers to just getting it done.

“It began with simple things like opening evenings and then weekends,” she recalls. “We were the first people to use text reminders for patients.”

Ah yes, the text!

That’s something we all know about. It might be the bane of your existence. And certainly, and sadly, I have seen many folks decide they’re going to read their texts driving down the road. (Public Service Announcement: Don’t do that).

Still, it is the way so many of us communicate. That’s why this latest idea just hits the mark.

Right now, if you text MAMMO to our health system number, 913-588-1227, you can schedule a screening.

That’s it.

Pick up your phone, text the word MAMMO, and you’re in.

The health system has been scheduling women for screenings, starting with this simple text, for several weeks.

“Our goal is to improve access for all our patients so they can get the highest quality of care possible,” said Dr. Winblad. “We want them to start at the right place the first time with the right people, the right resources, the specialists.”

Convenient access to high-quality results

“Something simple like a screening mammogram should not require a phone call,” said Susan Williams, radiology operations manager. "You shouldn't have to sit there, especially if you're already an established patient. It should be easy. Even if you haven't been here to our health system.”

Williams has been doing this kind of work the better part of 3 decades. Each morning, she comes in to see who has signed up for a screening and how many people have taken advantage of the text feature. It’s too early to predict trends, but she likes what she sees so far.

“We really want to be that first opinion because we have the experts and because we have the great equipment, and we do so much training with our technologists,” she said. “So that's really been our focus, to make this easy and have the patients come here from the very beginning.”

While many women are referred to The University of Kansas Health System by their doctors, our own or otherwise, 1 patient in 3 signs up online. Dr. Winblad and Williams anxiously await learning how many of those will come from “Text MAMMO” this first year.

The health system’s breast imaging team works closely with The University of Kansas Cancer Center – a National Cancer Institute designated comprehensive cancer center. It’s a highly specialized team. This means the highest accreditation for breast imaging and clinical experts who focus on 1 thing all day long, all week long, all year long.

“So you're getting not just the best radiologists, but we have the best technology. We have the best technologists performing our exams so that you know the images you get are of the best quality,” said Williams.

Remember, texting while driving = bad. Texting MAMMO = good. It’s easy. Don’t forget!

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