Mitigating the Long-Term Impact of the COVID‑19 Pandemic on Colorectal Cancer Care and Control in Alberta: Developing a Live Colorectal Cancer Activity Dashboard.
The COVID‑19 pandemic introduced a multitude of challenges to the cancer care delivery system. Colorectal cancer (CRC) prevention and diagnostic tests such as fecal immunochemical tests (FIT) and colonoscopies declined dramatically during the first wave of the pandemic. Similarly, CRC-related treatments were postponed, delayed, or dramatically altered. As the COVID‑19 containment measures are extended to combat the rapid unfolding of new variants, it is likely that the quality and the quantity of cancer care and control will be impacted for years to come. The pandemic has illuminated a considerable limitation in cancer control – at present we do not have timely or near real-time access to health data to even quantify the impact on systems. These data gaps are a challenge for the health system, policymakers, and health professionals to raise the alarm of where patients and procedures are being missed. Without this information the delivery of evidence-based cancer prevention and care is not feasible. The proposed research aims to develop a dashboard that displays interactive, near real-time CRC care and control data in the province of Alberta. First, the dashboard will be utilized to monitor monthly volumes of completed or overdue CRC screening, diagnostic, and surgical procedures. Second, we will estimate the backlog volumes of CRC activity procedures by region in Alberta. Third, we will examine monthly CRC activity backlog volumes by measures of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and immigration status to see how pandemic-related delays have differentially impacted the population. With these data we will be able to develop targeted community engagement strategies to help increase participation in population-based CRC screening as well as mitigate diagnostic and surgical backlogs. This dashboard will support decision-makers, the public health community and healthcare providers in planning and monitoring population-based CRC care and control efforts.