, Volume 26, Issue 7, pp 691-697
Date: 15 Feb 2011

Improving the Follow-Up of Positive Hemoccult Screening Tests: An Electronic Intervention

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND

Four population-based studies of screening for CRC with fecal occult blood testing (FOBT) have shown that mortality can be significantly reduced. However, nearly half of all positive screening tests are not appropriately evaluated.

OBJECTIVES

We evaluated whether an electronic record intervention improved the follow-up of patients with a positive FOBT (FOBT+) result.

DESIGN

We conducted a cluster randomized trial involving four Veteran’s Affairs (VA) medical centers pair-matched by colonoscopy volume and randomized within the pair to receive the electronic intervention or usual care.

PARTICIPANTS

All patients with FOBT+ results at participating facilities during a matched pre- and post-intervention time period.

INTERVENTIONS

In the two intervention sites, an electronic consult that imported relevant clinical information was automatically submitted to the gastroenterology (GI) clinic for all FOBT+ patients at the time the result was recorded in the laboratory. In both intervention and control sites (usual care), PCPs continued to be notified of FOBT+ results in the usual manner

MEASURES

Pre- and post-intervention changes in the proportion of FOBT+ patients having: (1) a GI consult or (2) a GI consult plus complete diagnostic evaluation (CDE) of the colon within 30, 90 and 180 days were compared across intervention and control sites. Log rank tests were used to determine statistical significance.

RESULTS

The 30-, 90- and 180-day GI consult rates improved 21–33 % (p < 0.001) among intervention sites, but did not change in the usual care sites. Thirty-, 90- and 180-day CDE rates improved 9–31% (p < 0.03) in intervention sites, but did not significantly change in the usual care sites. Time to GI consult and CDE decreased significantly over time in the intervention sites (p < 0.001), but remained unchanged in the usual care sites.

CONCLUSIONS

The relatively simple electronic intervention evaluated can significantly improve the follow-up of FOBT+ results. Interventions such as this could improve patient care and may be applicable to other practice settings, as well as other types of tests.