By Dara O’Brien

Philips Healthcare has stepped up its efforts on behalf of breast cancer awareness and prevention with a multiyear global program consisting of three interrelated campaigns: a roving mammography truck; global landmark building illuminations during Breast Cancer Awareness Month; and free mammography screenings in select international markets.

At the core of these initiatives is the company’s MicroDose Mammography product line, which it acquired from Swedish medical technology company Sectra in 2011. The acquisition broadened the Philips portfolio in women’s health in the United States to include digital mammography.

The system features photon-counting technology for an average 40% lower radiation dose with high quality and no scattered radiation or ghost imaging. It uses a curved, warm compression plate and fast imaging for improved patient comfort. Since the product line’s 2012 rollout, 15 systems have been installed nationally, with additional units projected by year’s end. The system has been available overseas for about 4 years, with 400 units currently in operation worldwide.

To raise awareness of the system and its capabilities, Philips is reaching out to clinicians through a mammography road show, which is visiting 13 US markets from October to December 2013. “We want to make sure that clinicians know that we offer mammography in our portfolio, and show the differentiations between CR mammography systems and other digital mammography systems out there,” said Shirley Taylor, VP of national sales, mammography solutions at Philips Healthcare. “When clinicians are aware, then patients also become aware.”

The mammography truck is equipped with a fully featured MicroDose product suite; an onboard educational team walks clinicians step by step through the exam process. Taylor reports that visitors have been impressed with both the system’s ease of use and the quality of the imaging. “We’ve had great success with everyone from a C-level down to a technologist,” she said. “They thought the images were great.”

The truck usually visits two locations a day, for about 3 to 4 hours at each stop, with an average of 30 to 35 invited guests often joined by up to 20 drop-in visitors. Tour locations include a mix of large cities and small towns and are determined by Philips; visits to specifically requested locations are incorporated if possible.

By educating clinicians, the company is reaching out to their patients as well. “We want to get the word out to women that this is not the same mammogram that their mothers had,” said Leslie Lakis, senior PR manager, Imaging Systems, Philips Healthcare. “It provides more comfort and less radiation. It’s not something women should shy away from.”

In addition to the mammography truck program, the company recently expanded awareness efforts through its illumination campaign. In partnership with the company’s Lighting division, Philips Healthcare used pink LED lighting to illuminate 100 landmark buildings in Africa, Europe, and North and South America throughout October. “It’s a global relay,” said Lakis. “We started in Asia at the beginning of the month, followed by a roll-out all around the world.”

A third tier of this global program is a mobile mammography unit that is delivering free mammograms in select international markets. The markets were determined based on need and regulatory considerations. “The program is building momentum year after year,” said Lakis. “As we move forward, we hope to be able to bring it to more markets.”

Tying every aspect of the program together is the Philips brand and its commitment to corporate citizenship and raising breast cancer awareness. “We’re a global company,” said Taylor, “and we care about people on a global scale. We’re building on our technology, our expertise, and our passion to educate the population as well as clinicians and patients on the importance of early detection.”