The Evolution of a Comprehensive Lung Health Program: A Case Study


Tue Mar 29 13:00:25 CDT 2016

With new goals set by the Affordable Care Act, increasing the quality and cost-effectiveness of patient care has become an even greater priority for providers.


For thoracic oncology programs, this translates to reducing the time from lung cancer diagnosis to treatment, and creating a minimally-invasive continuity of care for patients.  For this reason, providers are considering investing in lung programs that focus on early diagnosis as well as care coordination that smoothly guides a patient from diagnosis to treatment and recovery.


“The fragmented care pathway is one of the main problems organizations face in improving patient experience and outcomes, as well as cost efficiencies,” says Kevin Freeman, Director of Provider Solutions for Medtronic Health Systems Advantage.


“Comprehensive care programs are an effective remedy as they create a pre-defined diagnosis and treatment pathway, thus reducing the variance in how patients are cared for. That, in turn, leads to a significantly reduced diagnosis-to-treatment timeframe, providing patients more cost-effective options, such as minimally invasive surgery.”


Case Study

Recently partnering with a 1,100-bed hospital, Covidien helped improve its diagnostic and care coordination capabilities through the following approach:


Minimally-Invasive Surgery Capabilities


For providers, adopting minimally invasive procedures will be imperative in fulfilling their objectives to lower costs and improve patient experience within their surgical service lines.  In this partnership, the process began with the development of the hospital’s minimally invasive surgery capabilities.  In collaboration with the Covidien clinical education team, the surgeon attended minimally invasive surgery (MIS) training courses, gained a level of proficiency in video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) lobectomy and began to increase the percentage of resections done through this minimally invasive approach.


Multi-Disciplinary Alignment


The second phase in developing the Lung Health Program included gaining multi-disciplinary alignment across the patient care continuum. The goal of aligning pulmonology, thoracic surgery, and oncology was to reduce the time from diagnosis to treatment and create continuity of care for the patient.


Lung Cancer Screening Program

Using the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines to identify high-risk patients, community awareness and an outreach program was established to drive high risk patients in for low-dose computed tomography (CT) scans. The goal of this program was to identify lesions in their earliest stages, increasing the team’s ability to intervene and cure the patient’s disease.  The second element was the implementation of the superDimension™ navigation system, the first of its kind to enable Electromagnetic Navigational Bronchoscopy™ procedures (also known as ENB™ procedures).  ENB™ procedures provide a minimally invasive approach to accessing difficult-to-reach areas of the lung, which can aid in the diagnosis of lung disease.


Patient Outreach and Internal Education Programs

The final phase of this comprehensive program was to develop a marketing communication program, both internally at the hospital, and externally to their served patient population. The goal of this phase was to increase the awareness around lung cancer, the importance of wellness checks and screening, as well as the benefits of minimally invasive surgical interventions. The communications focused on the Hospital as a “destination center” for patients that have disease of the lung.


As a result of implementing a comprehensive lung program, the hospital was able to:

  • Reduce time from diagnosis to treatment. On average, according to a study in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology, the process takes up to a couple months. The Lung Health Program reduced that time to less than one week.
  • Reduce the number of patients with stages 3 and 4 cancers through early detection.
  • Reduce patients’ lengths of stay by implementing a minimally invasive, video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) approach.


“By creating a Comprehensive Lung Health Program, the hospital has been successful not only in reducing the total cost of care for patients presenting with lung cancer,” Kevin Freeman adds, “but they’ve also measurably improved the way the hospital cares for lung cancer patients.”


Download the full case study


Is your hospital investing in Comprehensive Lung Health Programs? Tell us in the comments below, or connect with a Medtronic Health Systems Advantage team member to discuss options.