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Facebook Live series ‘Bench to Bedside’ provides timely, useful information from KU Cancer Center

June 07, 2021

By Anne Christiansen-Bullers

2 doctors wearing white coats sitting in chairs in the studio
Roy Jensen, M.D., director of The University of Kansas Cancer Center, interviews health care professionals from the cancer center, The University of Kansas Health System and the University of Kansas Medical Center for the show Bench to Bedside. His guest this day was Paul Camarata, M.D., chair of the neurosurgery department at KU Medical Center.

If it's 10 a.m. Wednesday, a smiling Roy Jensen is most likely greeting his cyberguests for another episode of Bench to Bedside.

Jensen, M.D., director of The University of Kansas Cancer Center, hosts the Facebook Live series that uses a talk-show format to cover a broad range of topics related to cancer. The show's name outlines its scope, with "bench" referring to research and "bedside" a nod to patient care.

"Bench to Bedside is an important component of our efforts to connect to our community by highlighting topics that we feel will be of importance to our catchment area and beyond," Jensen said.

Many of those shows feature researchers from the University of Kansas Medical Center. Bench to Bedside gives those researchers an opportunity to share the with the public their exciting but sometimes overlooked progress in understanding and treating cancer.

"Our mission has always been to educate the public on exciting developments in cancer research, oncology care and cancer-prevention efforts," Jensen said. "We were fortunate to have Bench to Bedside already established prior to the pandemic to address these important community health issues and how they relate to cancer."

Recent topics on the show have tackled timely issues such as COVID-19's effect on cancer patients and the racial and economic disparities of cancer screening and treatment.

Broadcast on Facebook

Bench to Bedside is produced with state-of-the-art communications by the broadcasting team at The University of Kansas Health System. Jill Chadwick, director of media relations for the health system, is an award-winning executive producer with extensive experience as an anchor and producer at numerous TV stations, including the Kansas City-area television station KSHB. Chadwick leverages her experience to make Bench to Bedside a professional production.

"When our benefactor, Dolph Simons, gave us this studio, he asked that we use it whenever possible to benefit the university as well," Chadwick said. "We are pleased to be able to produce a show that includes experts from both the hospital side and the university side. We can highlight both research and patient care at the KU Cancer Center, all in one format."

2 doctors and cancer survivor holding her baby

Jensen (left) discusses fertility issues for cancer survivors with reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist Courtney Marsh M.D (middle). and her patient Ashley Flynn (right). At the time of the show's taping, Flynn, a cancer survivor, had given birth to her second son thanks to advanced in vitro fertilization treatment she received.

Christine Thomas, director of public relations and communications for the KU Cancer Center, said the show wouldn't go on without Chadwick and her team. "Huge credit goes to Jill and her Emmy-winning team," Thomas said. "We could not do this without them."

While doing the show on Facebook Live was initially a budgetary decision, the format has been a great fit for Facebook. Before every show, KU Cancer Center's Facebook followers are alerted to an upcoming show and invited to attend. Once they've logged in to watch, they can submit questions that may be answered during the show's Q&A session.

"That's another great feature of Facebook Live," Thomas explained. "We don't just put out information. We engage with our audience. It's two-waycommunication, and we receive some really great questions and comments of appreciation from people."

Thomas said the robust Facebook audience existed prior to the show, but engaging with that audience on Bench to Bedside has continued to grow the audience.

Terry Tsue, M.D, F.A.C.S., physician in chief for the KU Cancer Center, said he appreciated the flexibility of the Facebook platform. "Patients can watch live or tune in via our Facebook page at their convenience to hear from program leaders about advances in research, patient care and support services offered at our cancer center."

Educating the community

As a center designated by the National Cancer Institute, the KU Cancer Center has a responsibility to educate the people of its region, Thomas said. Bench to Bedside is an important strategy in its larger community outreach and engagement plan.

"If there's new research, technology or clinical trials we're offering here at KU Cancer Center, we want to feature the researchers and clinicians to get the word out," Thomas said. "But we also scan what's going on in the cancer conversation regionally as well as nationally and select topics of interest for our experts to discuss."

While Jensen's guests are usually colleagues from the KU Cancer Center, the health system and the medical center, guests can come from anywhere. A sampling of shows listed below  illustrates that guests do indeed advance viewers' knowledge of cancer in multiple ways.

The consistent star of the show, however, is Jensen. With a talent for thinking on his feet and a knack for presenting tough medical concepts in simple language, Jensen radiates fatherly concern in equal parts to medical expertise. It's rare for someone in his position to commit to an ongoing show with this type of time demand, but he says it's worth it.

"I believe the time I spend doing Bench to Bedside is well spent," Jensen said. "I see the value in engaging with our community, and I think it's a great opportunity for our researchers and clinicians to explain their work."

Helping other cancer centers

Other cancer centers have taken notice of the format and contacted the KU Cancer Center for help in setting up their own shows. They're seeking the expertise that comes from more than 100 episodes and nearly 200,000 video views. Those centers are also tasked with educating their catchment area, and they like what KU Cancer Center is doing.

Roswell Park Comprehensive Care Center in Buffalo, New York, was one of the first comprehensive care centers in the country, and Thomas said its leadership reached out for advice. "In my opinion, they are one of the gold standards for how to do cancer communications, marketing and digital communications. So, when they asked us about programming development, and then to send them some information, that was a huge compliment," she said.

What and where to watch

Past episodes of Bench to Bedside remain on the KU Cancer Center page's video library, where viewers can continue to ask questions and continue the cancer-related conversations. Shows are also accessible on YouTube. Here are just a few shows to check out:

Most-watched live stream

The most viewers tuned in to watch the live stream of "Vaping and E-cigarettes" featuring a KU Medical Center researcher and the secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Youngest "guest"

Featured in a discussion on fertility treatments for cancer survivors was the newborn son of colon cancer survivor Ashley Flynn . Flynn shared her personal history while medical information came from a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist.

Filmed "on location"

From the Association of American Cancer Institutes' annual meeting in Washington, D.C., , Jensen talked to Karen E. Knudsen, director of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center (SKCC) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, about the future of cancer research. SKCC, like the KU Cancer Center, belongs to AACI, an organization that encompasses 98 members across the U.S.

Matthew Huesser, enterprise director for administration and operations at SKCC, said working with the Bench to Bedside team was "amazing." "Bench to Bedside allowed our two center directors to candidly discuss topics close to them. The professionalism and expertise of Dr. Knudsen and Dr. Jensen really shed an amazing light on cancer leadership."

Get notified about the next Bench to Bedside

Want to know what topic will covered at the next Bench to Bedside? Sign up to follow The University of Kansas Cancer Center on Facebook along with the 26,000+ who already do. On most web browsers, the follow command can be found in the top right of the screen under a drop-down menu signified by three dots. (...)

Last modified: Jun 11, 2021
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