News | April 02, 2009

Mobile Unit Offers Free Mammograms

April 2, 2009 - A new mobile mammography unit will visit Union General Hospital in Farmerville, LA, where mammograms have not been available.

The mobile unit transmits digital images to radiologists who perform an initial screening and then notify patients if they need a follow-up exam by another physician.

The breakthrough partnership is bringing free digital mammograms for the first time to over-40 women who live in the rural parishes of northern Louisiana. Screening for breast cancer through mammography reduces mortality due to breast cancer by approximately 20-25 percent over 10 years among woman aged 40 years and over, according to 2008 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2006, 24 percent of women in Louisiana aged 40 years or older reported not having had a mammogram within the previous two years.

"With a brief visit to the mobile unit, a woman living in rural Louisiana can now have her mammogram read and receive a report while she is still dressing," said Jamie Welch, the Chief Information Officer for the Louisiana Rural Health Information Exchange (LARHIX). "Most women in Northern Louisiana parishes have never had a similar opportunity to detect breast cancer early and protect their health."

The mobile mammogram unit is the result of a partnership between LARHIX, the Louisiana Rural Hospital Coalition Inc. (LRHC) and the Partners in Wellness program at Feist-Weiller Cancer Center, designated a Center for Excellence in Cancer Research, Treatment and Education, at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport (LSUHSC-S). The unit will target women age 40 and older who have not had a mammogram performed in a year or more and are uninsured or under insured.

Purchased by Partners in Wellness through a state grant, the new mobile digital mammography unit transmits mammography images from rural Louisiana parishes to the Cancer Center in Shreveport. LARHIX uses a health information exchange technology from Carefx Corp. called Fusionfx, which aggregates patient information across existing systems, departments and facilities and offers clinicians single, clinically relevant views of patient information. LARHIX is working with Partners in Wellness to bring these diagnostic services to rural areas where mammography is either unavailable or requires extensive travel.

The pilot project begins this month at Union General Hospital and then Christus Coushatta Hospital in Coushatta Parish.

For more information: www.larhix.org

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