Emerging Approaches to Osteoporosis Screening: Allison Breast Center

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Michael BiggGillian BiggAllison Breast Center in Richmond, Virginia, has always conducted business according to a patient-centered philosophy. Michael Bigg, MD, JD, who owns the women’s imaging center, says, “Our business model is providing a very personalized service to our patients.” Gillian Bigg, SRN, general manager of the center, says, “They receive their results from Michael Bigg before they leave. The physician goes over the results with the patient before the patient’s departure, resulting in there being no call-backs. They appreciate the same-day results, as well as not having to return for any additional imaging.” That level of attentiveness has helped Allison Breast Center meet its patients’ needs. Michael Bigg notes, “Women come to us because they are very proactive about their health. We have been operating with this model for 25 years, and we have acquired very loyal patients who have referred their friends and family members. Women can choose where they get their mammograms, and they choose to come to us.”

These proactive, empowered patients had, in the past, inquired about being screened for osteoporosis, in addition to obtaining breast-cancer screening, but Allison Breast Center held off because it lacked the physical space for a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) system. When a simple adjustment from its PACS vendor, Sectra, made it possible for the center’s mammography system to provide fast, low-dose osteoporosis assessments, Allison Breast Center jumped at the opportunity. “We have waited for the osteoporosis functionality to become available in the United States for a long time,” Michael Bigg says. “It’s quick and has proved to be very successful. Already, many of our patients are taking advantage of this new service.” Low-impact Implementation The implementation of the Sectra OneScreen solution is simple and inexpensive; no hardware or software investments are required, and the solution can integrate with any PACS. The mammography system is calibrated by Sectra staff to include a protocol for imaging of the hand, and the PACS is updated to receive the data. OneScreen works by taking a single, 10-second standard radiograph of the hand. This is used to assess a patient’s osteoporosis risk—at a fraction of the radiation dose of a traditional DXA exam. Sheena Hutchins, lead technologist at Allison Breast Center, says, “From a technologist’s point of view, this is very quick and simple to perform. The patients find it very easy.” Michael Bigg adds, “We are still able to have people out of here within 30 minutes of arriving. We respect that they have better things to do than sit around in a physician’s office all day.” OneScreen is available on all digital mammography systems, as well as CR and DR systems. “Patients who have also had a DXA exam say the OneScreen gave them the same results: Reproducibility is very dependable with OneScreen,” Michael Bigg says. “With modern DXA machines, it also takes a while to start the study, and the radiation dose to the patient is higher. OneScreen is quick, and the radiation dose is limited; it is also beneficial to patients who want to receive their reports before they leave.” Enhanced Patient Care The addition of the Sectra OneScreen osteoporosis-screening technique enhances Allison Breast Center’s competitive position in its market, while underscoring its commitment to personalized patient care. The center set the price for the screening at $35, which more or less covers its cost of providing the service. “We priced it so that women could afford it,” Gillian Bigg notes. “This is not something we expect to make an abundance of money from, but we do know our patients will tell their friends and coworkers. We explain to the patients that Sectra OneScreen is an FDA-approved osteoporosis-screening tool that is just as accurate as DXA, but better, in that they receive immediate results and a lower radiation dose.” When Michael Bigg meets with patients following their combined exams, he has the ability to advise those who have osteoporosis (or are at risk for the disorder) about lifestyle choices that can help reverse the condition. “I’ve talked to every patient who has had the test done,” he notes. “It can be a lengthy process, coaching them on diet and exercise, but it is time well spent.” To reinforce his advice, Gillian Bigg is working on an osteoporosis cookbook with recipe recommendations for patients experiencing bone loss. Michael Bigg recommends that patients with positive