Patient Experience: How Virtual Primary Care Can Support Breast Cancer Prevention

October 10, 2023

First Stop Health

In the United States, there are roughly 264,000 cases of breast cancer diagnosed in women each year. Delays in case caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will likely have lasting effects on the number of breast cancer diagnoses in the coming years. According to the Journal of the American College of Surgeons (JACS), diagnoses of late-stage cancers are expected to rise and burden an already broken healthcare system.

To combat the threat of rising breast cancer diagnoses, patients must engage in their health and stay up-to-date on preventive care. It’s recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) that women and doctors begin discussing mammograms at the age of 40. For one FSH Virtual Primary Care patient, the doctor’s preventive care tactics caught her breast cancer early.

FSH Patient Story

  • This member (in her late-thirties with no family history of breast cancer) had her annual wellness visit with a FSH Virtual Primary Care doctor in February 2022. As she was soon to turn 40, the doctor referred her to get a mammogram to set a baseline for future annual visits.  
  • She completed her first mammogram in May 2022 after FSH communications reminded her to complete the appointment. A lump was detected which led to an ultrasound and eventually a biopsy. 
  • Following the biopsy, this member was diagnosed with breast cancer. Stage 0 ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). 
  • Because of the guidance from a FSH Virtual Primary Care doctor, this member’s breast cancer was caught very early. She was able to receive treatment with surgery and radiation. 
  • 1 year later and this FSH member is officially cancer free!

This member shared that without the convenience of FSH Virtual Primary Care, she would have most likely put off her mammogram indefinitely and her prognosis could have been much worse. The frequency of follow-ups and reminders from the first stop health care team encouraged her to complete her mammogram.

What other ways does virtual primary care support cancer prevention and treatment?

  • More frequent, longer visits allow doctors and members to discuss treatment suggested by oncologists. Virtual primary care doctors can offer second opinions, support through motivational interviewing and provide mental health support should a member need it post-diagnosis.
  • Patients and doctors can collaborate and have a unique dialogue whenever and wherever is most convenient for the patient. Phone and video conversations in virtual primary care facilitate shared decision making by reducing the time and space barriers to patient communication.
  • Education and resources to help patients better understand their diagnosis and treatment plans. Navigating the complex healthcare system in general can be overwhelming, and after a cancer diagnosis, members often feel left behind. Virtual primary care doctors are available to meet with patients to answer any questions they might have as there is no predefined limits on the number of visits.

First Stop Health (FSH) Virtual Care Solutions   

FSH Virtual Primary Care, Virtual Urgent Care (Telemedicine) and Virtual Mental Health solutions deliver patient-first, holistic care to members where and when they need it. Virtual Primary Care consists of preventive and chronic care to help coordinate and manage the many touchpoints of members’ healthcare journeys. With Virtual Urgent Care, members have access to 24/7 urgent care for episodic health concerns. Virtual Mental Health provides counseling to members, and in conjunction with Virtual Primary Care guidance and medication management, can lead to better whole-person health.  

Originally published Oct 10, 2023 8:21:57 PM.