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Parkland uses tech to home in on breast cancer disparities

Dr. Esmaeil Porsa, Parkland Health & Hospital System’s executive vice president and chief strategy and integration officer, said technology played an important role as it analyzed its community and ultimately decided to tackle breast cancer disparities.

Parkland, which has partnered with the CMS and the American Hospital Association in separate efforts, created an interface between its electronic health record and local community social services to ease communication. The setup allows clinicians to refer patients electronically to multiple supports at once. The Dallas-based health system then receives a notice from organizations when they can provide services and gets updates on the services provided.

Porsa said Parkland was able to identify two adjacent
 ZIP codes within its service area that had similarly high rates of women diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer, one in a predominantly black community and one where the majority of residents were Latino. The health system is examining each neighborhood’s socio-economic characteristics to find common factors that might provide clues as to why the women share similar breast cancer outcomes.

The disparities in breast cancer mortality and outcomes between white women and women of color in parts of the South Dallas neighborhood reflect racial and ethnic inequities found nationally.

While white women in the U.S. have the highest incidence rate for breast cancer at 128.7 cases for every 100,000 women, black women die from the disease more often than any other ethnic or racial group at a rate of 29.5 deaths per 100,000 a year. For white women, the mortality rate from breast cancer is 20.8 deaths per 100,000. Though the number of women overall who die from breast cancer has declined by 2.5% annually from 2006 to 2015, breast cancer mortality among black women was 39% higher than in white women, according to data from the American Cancer Society.

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