Independence Blue Cross (Independence) and the Colorectal Cancer Alliance (the Alliance) announced today a comprehensive new cancer screening and prevention program addressing health equity, specifically the significant reduction in colorectal cancer screening rates among Black Philadelphians since the pandemic started. Cycles of Impact is a new program which aims to increase awareness and access to preventive colorectal cancer screening through innovative approaches to community engagement and outreach, personalized screening recommendations and treatment for those diagnosed with the disease.
“At Independence, we are dedicated to ensuring equitable access to health care for all, and that starts with identifying and addressing disparities that impact our members and communities head on,” said Gregory E. Deavens, Independence president and CEO. “We know that Black Americans are disproportionately impacted by colorectal cancer and that their screening rates have declined. Through this partnership with the Alliance we are taking action to improve screening rates and save lives.”
Cycles of Impact is a three-year pilot program to screen at least 2,400 people in Philadelphia and prevent at least 60 cancer diagnoses. Independence Blue Cross is investing $2.5 million dollars in this initiative, which will evaluate the most effective real-world messages and messengers to inspire Black Philadelphians to get screened for colorectal cancer.
The impact and effectiveness of this program will be assessed as part of the Accelerate Health Equity collaboration launched in March by area health systems, academic institutions, the City of Philadelphia and Independence Blue Cross. Accelerate Health Equity leverages targeted programs like Cycles of Impact to address health equity by measuring progress and scaling programs that are effective.
“As the largest nonprofit organization committed to ending colorectal cancer, the Colorectal Cancer Alliance is uniquely positioned to lead and succeed with this bold program,” said Chief Executive Officer Michael Sapienza. “In our 23-year history, we have provided one-on-one support for more than two million patients and caregivers dealing with this disease. Our novel digital and live navigation platform provided more than 12,000 personalized screening recommendations last year alone based on individuals’ risk profiles. We are determined to continue to break down barriers to care and to demonstrate impact in Philadelphia that will lead to a scalable approach for other U.S. cities.”
Joining Independence and the Alliance in this unique collaboration are healthcare systems and academic institutions including Jefferson Health, Penn Medicine, Temple University Health System, and Spectrum Health’s Federally Qualified Health Centers. Partners also include elected officials and more than 50 community-based organizations, such as Philabundance, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Office of Black Catholics, and Bebashi Transition to Hope.
Reinforcing the urgency of this effort, Sapienza says, “Screening is the number one way to prevent colorectal cancer. Yet, one-third of eligible adults are not getting checked. Lowering the screening age to 45 means that 20 million more Americans are eligible for lifesaving tests, and most average-risk people have options.”
Cycles of Impact will launch this summer, with initial results expected by the end of 2022. Rigorous data collection and evaluation will allow the Alliance to share its research findings with the field to accelerate colorectal cancer screening across the country.