Computer's Cue Raises Screening Rates

Photo: A physician in front of a laptop with a man

Who is next? The computer
reminds everyone who needs
prevention screenings; © UMHS

The reminder system, called ClinfoTracker, was developed by family medicine doctors to help track and manage primary care. The system encourages doctors and patients to follow guidelines for managing chronic diseases or for prevention screenings.

In the current study, ClinfoTracker was integrated into twelve primary care practices participating in the Great Lakes Research into Practice Network, a statewide practice-based research network in Michigan.

The system printed reminders for patients who met general guidelines for colorectal cancer screening, based on age and history of prior screening. The reminders went to doctors only for eight of the practices and to doctors and patients for four of the practices.

The study followed the practices for nine months. The researchers found that average screening rates at the beginning of the study were 41.7 percent. By the end of the study, that had jumped to 66.5 percent.

“We felt there was a need to develop a reminder and tracking system that could be generalised in very distinct, diverse practices. We found the ClinfoTracker system could fit relatively easily into routine patient care flow and was easy to implement into a practice,” says study author Donald Nease and co-creator of the software.

The software can also assist with chronic care, such as diabetes testing, as well as with cancer screenings and other routine tests. Traditionally, doctors have used flow sheets, which are typically on paper, to track problems, testing and screenings.

A computerised system allows doctors to mark whether a test was completed, ordered, discussed with the patient or refused by the patient. If a test was ordered but not completed, the system can generate a reminder, a call list or mailing list for the doctor or office staff to follow up again. “It keeps the issue active with that patient,” Nease says.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Michigan Health System (UMHS)