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News & Trends - MedTech & Diagnostics

HCF partners with clinicians to optimise colonoscopy procedures in public hospitals

Health Industry Hub | June 20, 2024 |

MedTech & Diagnostics News: As Australia marks Bowel Cancer Awareness Month this June, the HCF Research Foundation highlights its support of a research project aimed at improving surveillance colonoscopy, key in diagnosing and preventing bowel cancer, Australia’s second deadliest cancer.

Led by Monash University Professor Denise O’Connor and Professor Harriet Hiscock from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, the Value in Care – Optimising Surveillance Colonoscopy (VIC-COL) study is shared between three Victorian Academic Health Science Centres – Monash Partners, Western Alliance, and Melbourne Academic Centre for Health – aimed at improving high-value use of colonoscopy in Victorian public hospitals.

The HCF Foundation-funded research is timely with the government’s recent announcement to extend the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) to Australians aged 45-49 starting from 1 July 2024.

The VIC-COL study aims to ensure that surveillance colonoscopy resources are used most effectively, so that patients receive the right care at the right time, in line with best practice guidelines.

“Clinical practice guidelines produced by Cancer Council Australia and endorsed by the National Health and Medical Research Council provide guidance for healthcare professionals and their patients on the need for and timing of future surveillance colonoscopy,” said Professor O’Connor.

A surveillance colonoscopy is a follow-up procedure performed at appropriate intervals after an initial colonoscopy has detected pre-cancerous lesions, polyps, or cancer.

“By improving adherence to these guidelines, we can ensure high-quality care and better health outcomes for patients,” Professor O’Connor added.

A 20% improvement in guideline concordance of surveillance colonoscopy intervals is expected to result in ~15% reduction in colonoscopy procedures over the next 10 years, thus providing better access for necessary, timely procedures.

With the upcoming inclusion of an additional 1.6 million Australians aged 45-49 in the NBCSP, it is more critical than ever to ensure that colonoscopy resources are efficiently allocated to those who most need them.

The study has shown remarkable progress within its first 18 months, working with six hospitals to refine initiatives like training nurse champions, conducting regular chart audits, and providing feedback to healthcare professionals to support guideline-concordant surveillance colonoscopy intervals.

Dr Chris Pettigrew, Head of the HCF Research Foundation, said “The HCF Research Foundation’s continued support of the VIC-COL project exemplifies our commitment to translating research findings into real-world practice, with the aim of delivering better patient outcomes and more cost-effective and efficient health services.

“We’re proud to champion projects like VIC-COL that have the potential to make a significant impact on delivering quality healthcare,” Dr Pettigrew said.

HCF is Australia’s largest non-for-profit private health insurer.

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