Making mammograms more accessible
M Health Fairview trucks specially outfitted with mammography equipment are bringing cancer screening services to historically marginalized communities
Thanks to increased awareness about breast cancer and a slew of innovative new treatments, more women diagnosed with the disease are surviving longer than ever.
This progress, however, comes with a glaring caveat: Women from historically marginalized communities—especially Black women—are still being left behind.
The National Institutes of Health reports that Black women are significantly more likely to experience a lower quality of care, reduced access to screenings, and disproportionately higher rates of aggressive breast cancers and cancer-related death than white women.
In an effort to correct similar disparities in the Twin Cities, M Health Fairview leaders launched a mobile mammography program that brings cancer screening technology directly to BIPOC (meaning Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities. This initiative is part of the M Health Fairview Healing, Opportunity, People, Equity (HOPE) Commission—an effort designed to fuel more equitable outcomes and inclusive experiences for its patients and communities.
Three M Health Fairview trucks were outfitted with a full suite of mammography equipment and deployed to primary care clinics in the system that do not already have imaging on site, including the Bethesda, Phalen Village, and Smiley’s clinics.
The trucks are staffed not only by imaging specialists but also by language assistance experts who are available to answer questions and explain the screening process.
“We wanted to make it easier for patients to get screened, and one way we’re doing that is by bringing the trucks to clinics they’re already comfortable with,” says Malay Thao, an M Health Fairview health equity consultant and the initiative’s leader. “Many of the patients we serve at these clinics come from historically underserved communities, so there’s an education component to this work for people who are less familiar with screening processes and recommendations.”