Pink Cards Secure Same-Day, Walk-In Mammograms

August 8, 2020

Provider-distributed cards facilitate same-day mammogram screenings for women in racial and ethnic minority groups.

Massachusetts General Hospital has designed an intervention that can effectively improve screening mammography rates, particularly among women who are in racial and ethnic minority groups.

Falling in line with the pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness, the hospital launched its Pink Card program in November 2016. As part of the pilot initiative, during scheduled visits, participating doctors distributed pre-printed mammogram reminder cards that could be redeemed for a same-day, walk-in screening appointment at one of three area locations.

Investigators published the results of the intervention recently in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

“By offering walk-in screening examinations that coincide with physician office visits in the same building, this program removes the need for additional dedicated screening visits,” said the team, led by Gary X. Wang, M.D., Ph.D., radiology instructor. “In turn, this can reduce difficulties that arise from transportation, challenges, competing priorities, including other personal healthcare needs and caregiver responsibilities, and financial burdens incurred by taking time off work, barriers commonly encountered by racial and ethnic minorities.”

In fact, this intervention was specifically designed to help address the obstacles many women in racial and ethnic minority groups face when it comes to getting the breast cancer screening they need. That is why, the team said, they launched the program in one of their outpatient community breast imaging facilities in the Boston suburbs.

During the study period, 3,688 women receive Pink Cards from their primary care or obstetrician-gynecologists that included the location and hours of operation for on-site imaging centers. Of the group, 19.9 percent used their cards. The women who redeemed their cards were less likely to be up-to-date with their biennial screening mammogram, and they were also more likely to be younger, Asian or black, and speak English as a second language.

Not every patient seen in the clinic received a Pink Card – providers used their own discretion to distribute them. According to the team, the clinics reserved up to four appointment slots daily for these walk-in patients, and mammograms where performed typically within 30 minutes of the patient’s arrival.

Overall, Wang’s team said, the use of their program pointed to the continued need to address health disparities that prevent many women in racial and ethnic groups from getting the breast cancer screening services they need – and the results indicate that such an intervention can be implemented in other off-site centers and practices.

“The Pink Card program offers the potential to enhance mammography screening access and engagement,” they said, “especially among vulnerable populations.”