SMS to be Used to Increase Cancer Screening Outcomes

Funding has been approved for a research trial that will allow GPs across our region to SMS patients a message that encourages participation in bowel cancer screening.

Western Victoria Primary Health Network (WVPHN) is pleased to be partnering with University of Melbourne, Cancer Council Victoria, Healthily and PenCat to deliver the innovative service which has been granted funding by the Victorian Cancer Agency (VCA).

What is SMART-SCREEN?

The research project, called ‘SMART-SCREEN’, requires general practices to send out an SMS via an online patient resource tool called GoShare to patients aged 50 and over, asking them to take part in bowel cancer screening. The SMS will contain testimonial videos of individuals endorsing the benefits of cancer screening, with the aim of increasing cancer prevention and screening outcomes. The practices will then measure whether it resulted in any uptake in screening.

WVPHN CEO, Dr Leanne Beagley, says that the SMART-SCREEN project is the next step in the organisation’s involvement in digital integration initiatives in cancer screening.

“This is a fantastic initiative that we and our partners have collaborated on to increase uptake in cancer screening in the community,” said Dr Beagley.

The project will be overseen by the Department of General Practice with University of Melbourne Centre for Cancer Research’s expert team and includes five practices recruited to participate and five practices as a control group in WVPHN’s catchment area.

Improving cancer screening rates and reducing cancer risks through early detection is a priority in a renewed focus on preventative strategies, according to Dr Beagley.

“Australia has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world and the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program has proven that 9 out of 10 bowel cancers will not develop beyond pre-cancer polyps when detected early and treated,” said Dr Beagley.

“We are proud to be offering this trial to our GPs and indeed our community in western Victoria.”