Many women do not get mammography screenings for breast cancer not out of fear but because of distance from these services. GE has developed an innovative campaign to change that. It will allow women in rural communities in Wyoming to “pledge to be screened,” and book appointments at a traveling screening center, called a Mammovan, via Facebook and Twitter.
The program, called “WY Women First,” will be launched tomorrow at the Cowboys Against Cancer gala in Rock Springs, Wyoming. Michael Barber, GE’s vice president of Healthymagination, says the company is “seeking to define a new, sustainable model for rural healthcare access that could be replicated in other communities.”
The program is part of GE’s $1 billion drive to accelerate the fight against cancer and one of several global programs to advance breast cancer access. GE’s goal is to accelerate cancer innovation and improve cancer care for 10 million patients around the world by 2020.
GE chose Rock Springs, population 19,000, because the average distance to a mammography screening facility in Wyoming is 70 miles and 33% of the state’s women never get screened. Nationally, 25% of women do not get screened.
GE marshaled social media to reach the scattered population. Researchers found that some 65,000 Wyoming women over 40 are active on Facebook. So GE commissioned a Facebook app that will allow women to “pledge to be screened” and make an appointment with the Mammovan, when the vehicle visits their community. They can also follow the campaign on Twitter. The app will be launched on Saturday, November 5. The van will start touring in February 2012. Barber says that the Mammovan “is like a food truck. It tweets as it goes.” He says that “by using social media, we are trying to create something that’s sustainable.”
WY Women First, which is part of GE’s Healthymagination drive, aims to screen 25,000 women in the first year. If it proves successful, GE will replicate it in other states.
The program also builds on GE’s partnership with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure initiative. The non-profit is donating up to $1 million to help pay for or give free mammograms to low-income or uninsured Wyoming women.
Also part of the program is a partnership with Jawbone, a technology company which developed a digital wristband that monitors users’s movements and sleep patterns and synchs it with a smartphone app.