Friday, December 15, 2017

OCMA Blog

Do Breast Density Laws Improve Public Knowledge of Breast Density Issues?

 


This article is brought to you by: Breastlink

visit www.breastlink.com for more information



It is essential that women and their physicians understand how breast density affects breast cancer risk and screening. As of December 2014, 18 states had passed breast density laws to help improve public knowledge surrounding breast density by requiring radiologists to inform patients when mammography reveals dense breast tissue. Despite these developments, several recent surveys suggest that neither patients nor physicians fully understand the relationship between dense breast tissue, breast cancer risk, and breast cancer screening.

Patient Knowledge Regarding Breast Density

Public awareness campaigns to promote mammography screening have been effective and a significant reason breast cancer mortality has fallen over the past several years. In a survey conducted by the Working Mother Research Institute (WMRI), which we covered here, 70 percent of more than 2,500 respondents reported they had received a mammogram.

However, there seem to be gaps in public knowledge of the importance of breast cancer screening, particularly when it comes to breast density. Less than one-half of those surveyed for the WMRI report were aware that mammography is less accurate in women with dense breasts than those with fatty breasts. Only 13 percent were aware that dense breast tissue is a risk factor for developing breast cancer.

A recent international survey conducted by GE Healthcare, which included responses from 1,000 American women, returned similar results. Overall, 30 percent of respondents from 10 countries were not aware of the link between breast cancer and dense breast tissue. In the United States, less than 20 percent of women were aware of this link.

Physician Knowledge Regarding Breast Density

Physicians are partly to blame for the lack of widespread awareness around breast density. Primary care physicians have traditionally not received extensive training on breast density issues. These include dense breast tissue as a risk factor for breast cancer, the effect of dense breast tissue on mammogram sensitivity, and the use of supplemental screening in women with dense breast tissue.

To gauge how a breast density law in California has affected physician awareness, researchers from the University of California, Davis surveyed 77 primary care physicians. Results were published December 2014 in Journal of the American College of Radiology.

· About one-half were unaware that a breast density law had been passed.

· About two-thirds reported no change in patient concern regarding breast density.

· About one-fifth reported they had never had a patient bring up a breast density notification letter.

· Six percent reported they were “completely comfortable” answering questions regarding breast density.

· Three-fourths expressed interest in attending an educational presentation on breast density issues.

Researchers concluded that the California breast density law did not lead to a rise in familiarity of breast density issues among primary care physicians. “The results of this study suggest that 10 months after enactment of the California Breast Density Notification Law, the intent of the legislation has not been fully realized,” wrote lead author Kathleen A. Khong, M.D.

Breastlink is committed to sharing accurate, up-to-date facts regarding breast density with our patients and the physicians we work with. This includes information posted to our website and shared in our offices, continuing medical education courses, and educational community events. We believe that knowledgeable, well-informed patients and physicians working together leads to shared-decision making that results in the best possible outcomes.

To learn more about breast density, whether you are a patient of physician, please get in touch using our online ‘Contact Us’ form.


Up in the Cloud: Is It Safe to Store Protected Health Information on Remote Servers?

What exactly is the cloud? Cloud storage is a network of remote servers that allow for centralized data storage and online access to these resources. Your files are stored on a server connected to the Internet instead of being stored on your own computer’s hard drive. The cloud is convenient and cost-effective, providing a way to automatically back up your files and folders. 

Despite these benefits, recent publicity around hacks of public cloud storage websites has raised concerns about whether it is appropriate for medical practices and facilities to store health records and information in the cloud. 

Is cloud storage a safe way to store protected health information (PHI)? As with many new technologies, the safety level of the cloud, and whether it’s appropriate for use, depends on the vendor. There are several issues you will have to keep in mind:

  • Are the vendor’s security standards appropriate? You will have to research each vendor you choose. Make sure the company has a good reputation and solid security policies. 
  • How much data will you be storing? Ensure the vendor can handle the amount of data you would like to move to the cloud.
  • Ensure your data is encrypted when being uploaded to or downloaded from the cloud. This is also your responsibility. Make sure your browser or app requires an encrypted connection before you upload or download your data. 
  • Make sure your data is encrypted when stored in the cloud. Data protected by law, such as medical information or personal identifiers, should never be stored in the cloud unless the storage solution is encrypted. Only selected members of your organization should be able to decrypt the data, and your organization should create policies detailing under what circumstances information can be decrypted. 
  • Understand how access is shared in your cloud folder. Many cloud storage providers allow you to share access to your online folders. Be familiar with the details on how that sharing works. Awareness of who has access and how is critical to monitoring activity within your stored data.
  • Understand your options if the cloud provider is hacked or your data is lost. Virtually all cloud service providers require a user to sign an agreement that the user has very little, if any, remedy if a hack or a loss of data occurs. 

Cloud storage can be a valuable asset to medical practices and facilities, but make sure you have absolute confidence in the service provider’s ability to keep the data safe and secure. 

Contributed by The Doctors Company. For more patient safety articles and practice tips, visit www.thedoctors.com/patientsafety.


ATTN OCMA Members: Amendment to Bylaws for Review-2015

Dear OCMA Membership,

The Bylaws Committee of the Orange County Medical Association has reviewed and updated the organization's bylaws. The revisions have been approved by the Board of Directors and now need to be approved by the general membership. Therefore, for the next two months (April and May 2015) you may review the revised Bylaws by Clicking Here

 
Please submit any comments in writing via email to ocma@ocma.org or mail to 17322 Murphy Avenue, Irvine, CA 92614.



 


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