Penn Medicine


Colon Cancer Screening


Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer related mortality. Screening as recommended reduces chances of mortality by 50%, however there is a significant lack of screening among many populations.

Currently, ~40% of Penn Medicine employees are not up-to-date on screening. 


Through a series of pilots, we’re working to achieve a material increase in recommended preventive screening rates among employees at Penn Medicine over the next five years.

In our first pilot, we tested the impact of reducing barriers to scheduling by creating a VIP Scheduling Service - a fake back-end leveraging a small group of employees from the Ambulatory Scheduling Department. 

The VIP Service removed the unnecessary step of seeing a primary care doctor to schedule an appointment and reduced effort on the part of the employee by having someone reach out to them. 

To advertise the service, we sent an email to approximately 175  employees within the recommended age for preventative screening.  In the copy, we utilized choice architecture, forcing recipients to choose to screen or not to screen.



Overall, we observed a 2% increase in the screening rate among the cohort. 

  • 18% (34/184) response rate 
  • Out of 75 individuals estimated to not be up-to-date on screening, 11% (8/75) indicated interest
  • Of those who indicated interest, 4 have been screened

Next steps

Additional pilots are currently underway to test the impact of social influence,  eliminating the perception of effort for users and offering individuals a way to commit to screening within the context of their lives.  We also plan to test the active choice concept and VIP access in larger populations of employees.



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14th Floor, South Pavilion
Philadelphia, PA 19104 

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