How Dr. Brian Dooreck Uses Text to Provide Patients with Hope & Guidance

Dr. Dooreck Portrait

Dr. Brian Dooreck, MD

September 17, 2020
EZ Texting
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Colon cancer is the third most common cancer — and it can affect patients of all ages, including Chadwick Boseman and Katie Couric’s late husband. In honor of March being National Colon Cancer Awareness Month, EZ Texting spoke with Dr. Brian Dooreck, MD about an innovative text use case that helps his patients receive important information in critical moments.

EZ Texting: Can you share with us what you do, as well as the Colorectal Cancer Provider Outreach Program (CRC POP) 💙

Dr. Dooreck: I'm a gastroenterologist in private practice in South Florida. My fellow gastroenterologists in the United States diagnose colorectal cancer about 150,000 times a year. And we're really good at diagnosing colon cancer and following up on procedures.

What we've not been doing in a structured, formal way is directing patients to all the national-level support that's there for them, their families, and their community. Imagine going through colon cancer. I spoke to someone yesterday, whose 36-year-old friend died from cancer. That was a long nine months she went through. Imagine having connections to a community of young colon cancer survivors from day one, from time zero, the day she was diagnosed. And that first scary hour of the wilderness, where patients are thinking, “What do you mean colon cancer?”

Here, they can connect with people [who can share their stories and support] like, “I got through it, I can tell you what I did…”

EZ Texting: How do you envision this program helping the physician-patient relationship?

Dr. Dooreck: Physicians function like a coach; the physician-patient relationship functions as a team. I mean, Kobe, Michael Jordan, these guys are amazing basketball players, the best. But they still had Phil Jackson on the sideline telling them what to do.

The patient may know they have got to do something, but they need to hear it from us. And [with this program], we're giving them a much better level of support. These are national organizations with national funding.

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We're providing hope, providing reassurance, providing guidance, and providing direction at the time of diagnosis.

EZ Texting: How else will this outreach program directly help patients?

Dr. Dooreck: Giving a patient an actionable step towards their treatment, towards their cure, or towards their outcome is something that's very empowering in a moment when your world is flipped upside down.

We deal with a very unique cancer, a very unique situation in a very unique setting where people are waking up from sedation and being told they have something they may not have expected. That's shattering in an emotional sense because, from my experience, having done this now for over 15 years of practice and years before that in fellowship, once you tell someone, “I think I found something that's cancer,” no one hears anything after the word cancer.

EZ Texting: So you’ve created a way, with text, to ensure patients are going to the right channels, with credible information they can trust

Dr. Dooreck: Dr. Dooreck: We created a tool and methodology to say, as a doctor, post-procedure, “Listen, this is what's going on. This is what you need to do, but I want you to take out your phone right now, text “COLON” to 484848 and a text pops up with a message and a PDF that lists services, phone numbers. And national colon cancer support groups.

And I can tell my patients, and my colleagues can tell our patients, “Starting now, I want you to call them, call them from the car, call them tonight, get on their websites, and see what they can offer you. I'll see you in a week.”

We're providing hope, providing reassurance, providing guidance, and providing direction at the time of diagnosis.

EZ Texting: And how does text help in comparison to other channels?

Dr. Dooreck: In my vision, there’s three ways of sharing notifications. The texting method to me is the most powerful one. The actionable step of actually taking out your phone, being told by your doctor to do something at the bedside, there's something empowering of doing some visible actions and the physiology, moving your body, creating that energy, that flow of actually doing something with the coach or guide that is your doctor sitting there.

That [patient] is sitting there fogged, not even with their family member at the bedside side during COVID, being told they have cancer. I don't want them thinking they're going to die tomorrow and going to a scary, dark place. That's what the Colorectal Cancer Provider Outreach Program is. There's no book, there's no sale. There's no email collection.

Share this with your patients. This is there for all the GI doctors or even colorectal surgeons or primary care doctors to provide that level of reassurance, not even just for the patient but also for family members and their support network.

EZ Texting: How many people are you hoping you can reach and help with this program?

Dr. Dooreck: There’s 150,000 diagnoses of colorectal cancer every year. But the amount of people we're going to touch with this program, it's 150,000 times three. There’s also a spouse, a partner, child support. You're touching half a million people's lives right there. This will definitely be a service. And [the patient] cost is $0. The effort is about three seconds, the price of doing it is really priceless.

EZ Texting: What type of results are you seeing?

Dr. Dooreck: Those are measurable outcomes and results that I am going to be asking all five organizations [that subscribers will be connected to, such as the American Cancer Society] to track with me. I want to measure calls and clicks every month. If this program is being used effectively, theoretically we’ll have [at least] 150,000 potential users of this program to reach out and connect. So in theory, each of these five organizations should see an uptick if it's being shared by the doctors at the time of diagnosis.

EZ Texting: Along with measuring clicks and calls, how else might you measure long-term success?

Dr. Dooreck: The understanding of gastroenterologists, my colleagues, to change our mindset, to change our algorithm, to change the way we think about things, then get into the habit, the knee jerk, muscle reflex of diagnosing colon cancer and then directing patients to the national level of support by texting COLON to 484848.

EZ Texting: And have you used texting in your personal practice as well?

Dr. Dooreck: I do in terms of generating patient reviews.

EZ Texting: What else would you like to share with people reading in honor of National Colon Cancer Awareness Month? What suggestions do you have for those reading this?

Dr. Dooreck: Share this with your gastroenterologist.

Be aware. Be screened.

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