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HealthPathways supports cervical screening changes

Published on 28 Nov, 2023 | Return|
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It’s great to be able to share stories about the impact HealthPathways has on health systems, and the achievements of HealthPathways programme teams. We want to do this more, so we’re being supported by Narrative Campaigns, a New Zealand-based communications consultancy. Narrative specialise in modern-day storytelling and are experts at traversing both digital and traditional media to help organisations amplify their impact. They have a long history of working with member-based organisations, social enterprises, and not-for-profits. They are excited about the opportunity to work with members of the HealthPathways Community, and we’re looking forward to working alongside them to share more news about your achievements here, and through wider media channels. 

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National cervical screening pathway

In September, Te Whatu Ora introduced changes to the National Cervical Screening Programme (NCSP) to improve cancer detection rates. For most women, the updated screening will be more convenient, less intrusive, and will require less frequent tests. For health professionals, the changes include a whole new set of guidelines around testing, interpreting results, and follow-up treatment.

Dr. Justine Lancaster, National Clinical Advisor HealthPathways says, “This is a huge system change. There are a lot of complexities around individual patient management. The NCSP guidelines are 85 pages long so there is a lot of new information health professionals have to absorb and then be able to communicate clearly to patients.”

To provide GPs with the information they need, when they need it, HealthPathways now provides a national cervical screening pathway, which includes local health service information. GPs around the country can access the same clinical guidance, while also accessing relevant local information. 

“Without HealthPathways, with the roll-out of a big national change like this there would be chaos and confusion. Time would be wasted while clinicians looked up multiple sources and versions of information. The wrong tests could be ordered and things could go badly wrong.”

Dr Lancaster says GPs need to know everything about everything, but that is literally impossible. 

“The volume of information that updates and changes every day is exponentially increasing. If you haven’t got the right information at your fingertips, a lot of time can be wasted trying to find it and usually this is done on your own time. The risk of burnout is immense and we already have a really stretched workforce, so a faster rate of burnout could collapse the health system. Having the right information, with the right level of detail from a trusted local source that is concise and responsive is hugely valuable.”

The new cervical screening pathway, designed to support improved equity in health outcomes, enables GPs to quickly and easily access reliable information about the new screening guidelines and processes, says Dr Lancaster.    

“Our national pathways ensure that no matter where a patient is located, or who their GP is, they will receive consistent, evidence-based care,” Dr Lancaster says. “Especially in situations where evidence points to inequitable health outcomes, the pathways will emphasise the key actions needed to help to address this discrepancy."

Image: National Cervical Screening Programme, NZ

Quick to adapt

During the country’s COVID-19 response, national healthcare delivery was changing daily. To keep up with the frequent updates, HealthPathways teams adapted quickly and pivoted to a new way of working together collaboratively with the Ministry of Health. As the HealthPathways clinical editors responsible for developing pathways are also frontline clinicians, they were able to provide early feedback on any problems they spotted for primary care implementation plans. These learnings helped HealthPathways to quickly release a pathway nationally that reflects the brand new cervical screening guidelines.

Dramatic usage increase

The release of the new cervical screening pathway was timed to coincide with the roll-out of the new National Cervical Screening Programme and was accompanied by a one-hour webinar, co-hosted with the cervical screening programme team of Te Whatu Ora. The session was designed to be concise and high-impact, ensuring that health professionals could easily understand the new guidelines and apply them immediately. Around the country, more than 1300 people attended or watched later. Following the webinar, usage of the pathway increased by up to 6000%.

More information 

For more information about the national cervical screening pathway, please contact your Community Success Manager.

If you’d like to know more about HealthPathways, or if your health jurisdiction hasn’t yet joined the HealthPathways Community, please:

  • See HealthPathways Global for an overview 
  • Email info@healthpathwaysglobal.org or phone:
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