Screening based on risk factors and birth year boosts screening rates for hepatitis C
Research Activities, August 2012, No. 384
Effective treatment is available for persons infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV), but approximately 50 percent of patients are not aware that they are infected. A new study found that HCV screening reminders based on either a person's risk factors or the year they were born (high-risk years 1945-1964) increased HCV screening rates. Specifically, the risk-based screening reminder raised the proportion of patients tested from 6 percent to 13.1 percent and the birth-cohort screening reminder raised the proportion of persons tested from 6 percent to 9.9 percent.
The risk-based screener prompted physicians with a clinical reminder sticker in the progress notes to ask whether a patient had specific HCV-related risks and to order HCV tests based on the presence of those risks. The second intervention (birth cohort) also used a clinical reminder sticker to order an HCV test for all patients born between 1945 and 1964.
The population studied consisted of all adult patients who had a primary care visit to one of three urban primary care clinics during the study periods. The authors recommend that HCV screening programs using either a risk-based or birth-cohort strategy should become integrated within primary care settings in order to realize the potentially life-saving benefits of treatment. This study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (Contract No. 290-06-00012).
See "Primary care-based interventions are associated with increases in hepatitis C virus testing for patients at risk," by Alain H. Litwin, M.D., Bryce D. Smith, Ph.D., Mari-Lynn Drainoni, Ph.D., and others in Digestive and Liver Disease 44, pp. 497-503, 2012.