The month of March is known nationally as Colon Cancer Awareness Month, with March 6 designated as #dressinblueday to increase awareness about the importance of colon cancer screening.

For our staff, #DressinBlueDay represented especially exciting news for the Greater Cincinnati community – it recognized our organization’s work around increasing these preventive screenings.

The Health Collaborative is a partner organization with the American Cancer Society in the “80% by 2018” initiative, developed by the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable to achieve the goal of 80% of adults aged 50 and older being regularly screened for colorectal cancer by 2018.

As part of this effort, our Your Health Matters team has been measuring the improvements Greater Cincinnati is making to increase preventive colon cancer screenings, and the results are encouraging: The number of patients in Greater Cincinnati getting screened for colon cancer increased to 64 percent in 2013 – an increase of 6 percentage points over the 2011 baseline data which measured a screening rate of 58 percent, according to the most recent data reported to YourHealthMatters.

The ratings, voluntarily reported by primary care practices, show how well doctors and their patients in the Greater Cincinnati region did in completing the recommended screening for colon cancer. The goal for doctors and their patients is that all patients between the ages of 50 and75 should be screened for colon cancer via one of the professionally recognized tests for colon cancer screening including colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy procedure, and stool testing.ColonCancerSelfiePic2_Ps

In order for a practice to receive a point toward their score, a patient between the ages of 50 and 75 must have received one of the approved screening tests within the prescribed time period. Additionally, the screening must have been documented in the patient’s medical chart with their primary care physician.

Dr. Barbara Tobias, Medical Director at the Health Collaborative, says that prevention and screening are major components to advancing the Triple Aim. “Improving patients’ access to preventive care and colon cancer screening supports our goals for better care, better health, and lower overall health cost in our Greater Cincinnati community,” she said.

With that in mind, we challenged staff to #dressinblue. And rise to the challenge they did, sporting their favorite blue hues and most importantly – committing to continuing efforts toward 80% by 2018.

Check out more about the data collected at YourHealthMatters.org.