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Ring, Ring, Ring…If there were an alarm clock that could save your life, would you get it?

Read how one patient benefited from the Iowa Clinic's Care Coordination and Management Program.

Your Local Health | Written by BJ Towe

The Iowa Clinic's Care Coordination & Management program, launched in May 2014, alerts you to things you should do for your body. It's free — and it could save your life. Just ask Robert Van Hook, a patient of The Iowa Clinic.

Van Hook, 64, is a busy man. He travels a lot for work and, when he's home in Altoona, his days fill quickly. “It was easy to put it off — and eventually forget about it altogether,” Van Hook says about a colonoscopy.

Shortly after The Iowa Clinic launched its Care Coordination & Management program, Van Hook began fielding calls from Jolene Lyddon, one of The Iowa Clinic's care coordinators. She called to remind him to schedule the exam, which he had intended to do — but didn't. When Lyddon called again in July, this time she offered to schedule it for him while he waited on the phone.

That call saved Van Hook's life.

On August 5, Van Hook finally had his first colonoscopy at The Iowa Clinic Endoscopy Center. The exam detected a lesion on the inner wall of Van Hook's colon that was “somewhere between the size of a nickel and a quarter,” he says. Van Hook was immediately scheduled for surgery.On August 25, Kyle Rogers, M.D., a Colorectal Surgeon with The Iowa Clinic, removed approximately 10 inches of Van Hook's colon. “I was lucky,” says Van Hook. “The tumor had not spread outside the colon wall or to the lymph nodes, so I didn't need chemo or radiation therapy.”

Without the repeated calls from The Iowa Clinic, “In all honesty, I probably wouldn't have gotten the colonoscopy scheduled. The cancer would have progressed and caused more problems,” says Van Hook. “Obviously I am very, very thankful and pleased that The Iowa Clinic was diligent in their follow-up,” he says. “But if I'd had my procedure earlier, the tumor probably would have been a polyp that could have been removed during the colonoscopy — and that would have been the end of it. Since I didn't, I was fortunate that my cancer hadn't further progressed.”

Christina Taylor, M.D., an Internal Medicine physician and The Iowa Clinic's Chief Quality Officer, says, “Our calls to Mr. Van Hook are a great example of how we are not passively waiting for someone to show up in our office to get them the exams or care they need. That colonoscopy was life-saving.”

Care Coordination: Working to Save Lives

Christina Taylor, M.D., The Iowa Clinic's Chief Quality Officer overseeing the Clinic's new Care Coordination & Management program, says the traditional way of caring for patients has been to wait for them to visit their doctor's office before recommending certain screenings or treatments. But some patients don't see their primary care provider often enough to queue up preventive care at the recommended times.

Care Coordination Works to Eliminate Gaps in Recommended Screening

Now, for patients whose Primary Care providers are with the The Iowa Clinic, clinical staff monitor their preventive screenings and watch for other gaps in care, such as needed appointments, lab work, or other treatments. If gaps exist, they will call the patient and try to get them scheduled. While some patients may find the calls annoying, Dr. Taylor says, “When we call a patient, we use evidence-based guidelines and standards of care. We're calling because we really want to deliver the best possible, potentially life-saving, care to every individual we serve. We want people to know, and receive, the screenings recommended for them at their age. Diabetics and people with other chronic illnesses can live long and fulfilling lives if they manage their diseases well, and we're here to help with that, too.”

The Iowa Clinic provides additional monitoring to patients who have high-risk conditions, are on certain medications, or have other factors impacting their health.“Our goal is to help patients stay healthier longer, avoid complications, hospitalizations and costly E.R. visits,” says Taylor.

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