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Dayna Crawford, Brook Blackmore, Jeremy Ortega and Erica Williams

Background: Colon cancer is the 3rd most common cancer in men and women combined, with an occurrence rate of 4.49% for men and 4.15% for women. The 2018 expectation is 50,630 deaths related to colon cancer in the United States (American Cancer Society Facts and Figures 2018). Early detection is increasing with nearly 45% of colon cancers diagnosed as stage I/II (Sarah Cannon Cancer Registry 2015). Treatment for early stage I/II colon cancer patients usually involves surgery then surveillance. On-site navigators perform their duties by patient need and barriers to care. Late stage III/IV colon cancer patients require more assistance and face more barriers, which often leaves early stage I/II patients without an advocate. This disparity can lead to lower rates of follow-up care for early stage I/II patients. Sarah Cannon created a program for virtual colon navigation (VCN) to determine if early stage I/II patients benefit from a virtual navigator who offers support by phone throughout their disease process. Objectives: The goal was to increase early stage I/II patients’ knowledge of their cancer and convey the importance of compliance with follow-up care, such as repeat colonoscopy as recommended by their physician and NCCN Guidelines. Methods: By developing software that utilizes artificial intelligence, Sarah Cannon created an automated process to identify colon cancer patients at the time of diagnosis. This technology then routes positive pathology reports to a VCN who contacts the early stage I/II patients by telephone, ensuring patient connection to the suitable physician for treatment. The VCN helps patients understand their diagnosis, provides education, assesses barriers to care, connects to resources, provides emotional support, and offers assistance with follow-up for physician visits, imaging and procedures such as colonoscopies, based upon NCCN Guidelines and physician guidelines. The VCN also connects stage III/IV patients with an on-site navigator in their region for more hands-on navigation. Results: Through September 2018, Sarah Cannon navigated 734 colon cancers, 332 stage I/II and 402 stage III/IV. With our increased capacity, Sarah Cannon/HCA maintained a 98% rate of follow-up care with new diagnoses of all stages of colon cancer. Conclusions: The VCN program allowed Sarah Cannon/HCA to improve care continuity and compliance based upon NCCN Guidelines for early stage I/II colon cancer patients throughout 5 regions and 37 facilities.