A key goal of the McLeod Healthy Lungs Initiative (HLI) is to shift the prevailing trend of diagnosing lung cancer at late stages to early-stage discovery. In so doing, our teams will be able to successfully treat and cure more lung cancers, thereby giving our patients better outcomes and longer lifespans. One way in which we are achieving this goal is through incidental lung nodule discovery. With the help of a grant from the McLeod Health Foundation, LungGPS software was purchased to give us the capability to identify patients who have incidental lung nodules across all McLeod Health facilities. This software officially went live for McLeod Regional Medical Center in August 2020 and for our hospitals in Loris, Little River, Carolina Forest, Dillon, Clarendon, and Cheraw in November 2020.
The LungGPS software uses artificial intelligence to search and analyze data across diagnostic reports, highlighting any relevant information/keywords (Medtronic, 2018) chosen by our HLI program co-chairs, Dr. Wayne Holley and Dr. Vinod Jona. As an example, if a patient comes to the Emergency Department with chest pain, they may undergo a CT scan as part of their workup. While reading the scan, the radiologist might identify a lung nodule in addition to other clinical issues more relevant to the patient’s chief complaint. The LungGPS software will flag this patient for internal follow-up due to the keywords in the radiologist’s dictation. This software supplements the continuum of care for the patient and helps prevent patients from “falling through the cracks.”
Along with the purchase of LungGPS, Ainsleigh Brown, RN, serves as our Lung Nodule Nurse Navigator. She ensures that patients identified through LungGPS, who meet criteria based on the Incidental Lung Nodule Management Protocol Algorithm, are enrolled in the HLI program and receive a timely follow-up and referral to the proper specialist (at the ordering physician or primary care physician’s discretion). The Lung Nodule Nurse Navigator also contacts the patient’s physician with any actionable significant findings, such as an aortic aneurysm or ancillary lesion/mass, to facilitate further evaluation and treatment.
Upon enrollment and diagnostic evaluation, patients are followed until lung nodules are deemed benign. Alternatively, they may be enrolled in the Lung Cancer Screening arm of the program should they meet the qualifications for this screening per CMS guidelines. In this pathway, they are handed off to Lung Cancer Screening Nurse Navigator Amy Perugini, RN. Should a patient receive a diagnosis of cancer while enrolled in follow-up, any appointments with Thoracic Surgery, Medical Oncology, and/or Radiation Oncology are expedited and that patient’s care is then managed by the Lung Cancer Nurse Navigator Beth Epps, RN.
Medtronic. (2018). A Unified Approach to Lung Cancer Care: LungGPS Patient Management Platform [Brochure]