Bringing health equity to mammography and health screenings in Arkansas

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Bryant-Smith said her center’s MammoVan mobile mammography unit regularly travels throughout Arkansas providing digital screening mammograms and breast care education in rural communities. This helps address access to care in areas there there otherwise are no clinics and would require women to travel large distances to be screened. Outfitted with digital mammography equipment, the three-room mobile unit is staffed by a certified mammography technologist and a technical assistant. The Mammovan program has been operating for more than 10 years.

The program works closely to coordinate with local groups that can help bring patients to the mobile screenings, such as churches and local health departments.

“It provides mammography screenings for rural and underrepresented populations, and that has been successful, and that success has led us to think outside the box and how we can used this mobile idea to reach more diverse populations with additional cancer screenings,” Bryant-Smith explained. “So, we have incorporated the thought of fecal immunochemical test (FIT) for colon cancer, having a smoking cessation counselor travel with the van, HPOV vaccination and other types of health screenings. We are working now to secure three new vans, one of which will be for low dose CT lung cancer screenings. So our facility has expanded the mobile concept to far more than just mammography screening.”

She said lung cancer has a high mortality rate in Arkansas. She explained USMS Health is hoping the mobile CT system will help catch more patients with early detection when it is easier to treat the cancer and improve that survival rate.

She hopes the USMS Health concept for mobile health can serve as a template for other health systems. 

Diversity equity in the radiology workforce

Bryant-Smith has been working with her center to increase diversity in the workforce. She said this is not about affirmative action; instead, it’s a way to reflect the face of the community and the patients they serve to better build trust. 

“If we increase representation and inclusion of different groups in the workforce, it then leads to more trust among diverse populations of patients,” she explained. 

This includes community outreach to high schools and below, where presentations by minority doctors is hoped to foster an interest in getting into medicine. There are also pathway education tracks to get younger students more involved in healthcare education earlier so they go on to become doctors. She said this is hoped to increase the numbers of minority physicians in the future. 

“Most of think if we can see it, we can be it. It helps increase trust for patients who look like you, but you also can serve as a role model for students who look like you who then think if she can do it, I can do it,” Bryant-Smith explained.

She also serves on the RSNA Diversity and Inclusion Committee where there is a focus on getting more propel of color into radiology education programs. 

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