Use of Tracking and Reminder Systems for Colorectal Cancer Screening in Indian Health Service and Tribal Facilities
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Use of Tracking and Reminder Systems for Colorectal Cancer Screening in Indian Health Service and Tribal Facilities

Filetype[PDF-394.75 KB]


  • Alternative Title:
    IHS Prim Care Provid
  • Description:

    Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality among American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) people. Screening at recommended intervals can detect CRC in its early, most treatable stages, or prevent CRC through removal of precancerous polyps. However, CRC screening percentages remain low among AI/AN people. Reminder and tracking systems can be used to improve CRC screening percentages.


    In this study we assessed the prevalence of CRC screening reminder and tracking systems in Indian Health Service (IHS), Tribal, or Urban (I/T/U) health facilities.


    A telephone survey of randomly selected small, medium and large I/T/U health facilities nationwide was conducted. Three health facilities from each of the 12 IHS areas nationwide were selected from a list of I/T/U healthcare facilities that provide CRC screening or refer patients to another facility for screening, with the goal of having one small, one medium, and one large I/T/U health facility from each IHS area.


    Thirty-four facilities (94%) participated in the telephone survey between April 1 and September 24, 2010. All facilities used the IHS Resource and Patient Management System to manage their patient care, and 82% used the Electronic Health Record (EHR) version. Over half of these facilities (55%) performed in-office fecal occult blood tests (FOBT) collected during a digital rectal exam, all of which reported that they also sent FOBT cards home with patients. Fifty-three percent of facilities used an opportunistic, visit-based approach to CRC screening. Nearly a third (32%) of facilities reported using a reminder system to notify patients that they were due for CRC screening. Almost two-thirds (65%) of facilities used a reminder system to notify health care providers that patients were due for CRC screening. While 73% of facilities used a system to track whether patients were due for CRC screening, only 61% used a system to track patient results for CRC screening, and 42% used a system to track patients with a personal history of polyps or CRC.


    A majority of facilities performed in-office FOBT tests using a digital rectal exam, which is a practice that is contrary to national CRC screening recommendations. Additionally, the majority of facilities reported not using an organized system for CRC screening. Use of patient reminders was suboptimal. However, facilities did report use of provider reminders, tracking when patients were due for CRC screening, and tracking CRC screening results. As the EHR system becomes more widely used and established, I/T/U facilities could be encouraged to increase their use of the EHR tools available to aid in systematically increasing CRC screening percentages.

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