Improving Patient Outcomes with Patient-Centric Radiology at Lake Medical Imaging
A personal passion to help
Despite the ever-changing healthcare landscape and continuous advances in imaging technology, radiologists at Lake Medical Imaging (LMI) are happy to report that their approach to patient care hasn’t changed in years. And that’s a good thing. LMI has served its central Florida patient community since 1965, and has been the very image of service to patients needing quality diagnostic imaging, as well as to their physicians seeking the comprehensive diagnoses. Pioneering a patient- centric approach to breast health, LMI operates five centers equipped with state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging technology, and a staff of 23 board certified and fellowship-trained radiologists. Even with 46,850 mammograms completed in the last 12 months, their customized approach allows them to consult with every patient after her screening, give her same-day test results, and offer her a breast examination.
“I came here [to practice] in 1988 and the group was already in the swing of things with breast imaging wherein every mammography patient met with the radiologist to receive her results on the spot, along with a breast examination,” recounted Cathrine Keller, MD, Managing Physician, Lake Medical Imaging. That philosophy of patient-centric radiology remains in place today, and is paired with advanced imaging technologies supporting earlier breast cancer detection and treatment, and giving them the opportunity to affect the health outcomes of their patients.
Personalizing the screening experience
The patient population served by LMI is different from the national population; their screening histories are information-rich and their risk for cancer, potentially higher. “Close to 80 percent of our patients are Medicare age,” reported Dr. Keller. Additionally, Dr. Keller added that 24 percent of her patient population is density C or D, compared with the rest of the national population, at 40 to 45 percent. Even though their breast tissue is less dense, LMI patients are still at higher risk for breast cancer simply because of their age. But, “because of that,” she explained, “they almost always have had many prior screening mammograms to use for comparison… so you are better able to see subtle changes;
“They gave me a second chance at life. I know that Lake Medical Imaging does whatever it takes to bring the best technology to their patients.”
–Kathi Schue, cancer survivor and LMI patient
your ability to detect breast cancer is improved, and your false positives decreased. Having multiple prior mammograms for comparison avoids the need to call back the patient for extra views unnecessarily.”
Knowing the demographics of the patient population is just the first step. Dr. Keller added that LMI further personalizes the screening experience by qualifying risk based on family history and breast density, since there are almost no patients positive for BRCA 1 or 2 in their patient population.
“Any woman who is C or D breast density and especially if that’s in combination with one or more first degree relatives with breast cancer,” Dr. Keller explained, “will have as much as a four-fold increased risk of breast cancer, the perfect candidate to benefit from additional evaluation.” At present, LMI is frequently utilizing GE’s SenoBright™ Contrast-Enhanced Spectral Mammography (CESM) system for additional evaluation. “SenoBright is an excellent test for us and for this patient population because frequently, older women find it uncomfortable to have to lie prone in the MR machine,” Dr. Keller explained. “With SenoBright, they are coming into the mammography suite they are already familiar with, seeing the technologist they’ve known for years and having the exam, which is not appreciably longer than a regular mammogram. I look at the images and can give the results right away. They have an immediate answer.”
One patient’s story
One LMI patient wrote a letter to the staff at LMI about her experience there, and the impact of personalized care and technology.
Kathi Schue was told there was a concern regarding a tiny gray shadow on her mammogram and that she should return for a follow-up exam. She had a neurostimulator, which precluded her from an MRI exam so she was recommended for SenoBright.
“I was told they wanted me to have a test called a SenoBright mammogram,” Schue wrote. “Lake Medical Imaging was the only place in the state that had that technology at the time. When I was called in to see the results of the test, I knew why they called it SenoBright. It was like someone turned on a light bulb on the screen. I saw bright white where there had only been a hint of gray. I wasn’t surprised when they recommended a biopsy.”
Though Kathi was reluctant, she had the biopsy, and the finding was a 4mm invasive ductal cancer. Her surgeon removed two clear sentinel nodes, and her margins were so clear she didn’t need adjuvant chemotherapy or radiation.
“Putting someone through hell is not a false positive on a mammogram,” Schue’s letter concluded. “Hell is not finding a tumor that’s there. I am grateful to Lake Medical Imaging. They gave me a second chance at life. I know that Lake Medical Imaging does whatever it takes to bring the best technology to their patients. My family and I appreciate their sacrifice more than anyone will ever know.”
Dr. Keller shared her feelings about receiving such an emotional letter from her patient. “It was incredibly gratifying to know that she was so pleased with our services and that we were able to help her with a diagnosis that would have been otherwise difficult. It was quite moving to receive her letter, and we shared it with all the members of the staff who had been involved with her care.”
Dr. Keller and the team at LMI are committed to upholding their patient-centric care philosophy, knowing that it has indeed affected patient outcomes. Although providing same-day results or additional testing may be more work for the radiologists and staff, Dr. Keller believes it’s well worth it for her patients to leave knowing they’re okay, or with a clear idea of what the next steps will be if additional testing is needed.
“I think the personalized approach is vital to the doctor patient relationship,” remarked Dr. Keller. “One of the most important things a doctor can do, and particularly a radiologist, when it comes to breast imaging, is to relieve anxiety. So many women are extremely fearful of breast cancer and therefore even coming in for a screening mammogram makes them anxious and fearful. So, if I can make that experience better for them, it’s more likely they will continue to have their annual screening mammogram. Breast cancer diagnosed in women who undergo annual screening mammography tend to be found when smaller, lower grade, and node negative, and are more likely curable. Early detection is the best protection. That’s why I believe the personalized approach is so vital.”