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Colon cancer screening doubles with new e-health record use
Date:3/4/2013

SEATTLEResearchers used electronic health records to identify Group Health patients who weren't screened regularly for cancer of the colon and rectumand to encourage them to be screened. This centralized, automated approach doubled these patients' rates of on-time screeningand saved health costsover two years. The March 5 Annals of Internal Medicine published the randomized controlled trial.

"Screening for colorectal cancer can save lives, by finding cancer earlyand even by detecting polyps before cancer starts," said study leader Beverly B. Green, MD, MPH. "But screening can't help if you don't do itand do it regularly," added Dr. Green, a family physician at Group Health and an affiliate investigator at Group Health Research Institute.

More than one in 20 Americans will develop colorectal cancer, which is second only to lung cancer in causing deaths from cancer, Dr. Green said. Screening for colorectal cancer is strongly recommended for everyone age 50 to 75 years, but almost half of Americans do not get screened regularlyfar below the screening rates for cervical and breast cancer.

"It's important to find ways to ensure that more people are screened for colorectal cancerand keep being screened regularly," Dr. Green said. "I've seen patients die from this cancer. So I was thrilled to find that our intervention doubled screening rates and kept them up to date regularly over two years in people who hadn't been getting regular screening."

The SOS (Systems of Support to Increase Colorectal Cancer Screening) trial started by identifying 4,675 Group Health patients, age 50 to 73, who weren't up to date for colorectal cancer screening. Then they were randomly assigned to one of four stepped groups:

  • The first group received "usual care," which includes both patient and clinic reminders for those overdue.

  • The second group received this plus "automated" care, which included a letter telling them
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Contact: Rebecca Hughes
hughes.r@ghc.org
206-287-2055
Group Health Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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