Computerized reminder system drove up colon cancer screening rates, study found

September 5, 2008,
Donald Nease, University of Michigan Health System
Dr. Donald Nease uses the ClinfoTracker software during a patient visit. Credit: University of Michigan Health System

A computerized reminder system used in community-based primary care doctors' offices increased colorectal cancer screening rates by an average of 9 percent, according to a new study from the University of Michigan Health System.

The reminder system, called ClinfoTracker, was developed by family medicine doctors at UMHS 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, published in the September issue of Medical Care, ClinfoTracker was integrated into 12 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 generalized 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, M.D., associate professor of family medicine at the U-M Medical School and co-creator of ClinfoTracker.

The greatest improvements in screening rates occurred at practices that were more technologically savvy and practices where employees were more adaptable and worked well together.

Initially, ClinfoTracker was developed to help doctors track patients' clinical problems and preventive care over time. 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.

"That works on the one hand at the individual patient level – if you keep up with it. But you don't have the ability with that kind of system to go any further," Nease says.

A computerized 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 by 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.

The ClinfoTracker software is being used commercially under the name Cielo Clinic at all five UMHS family medicine clinics, as well as at several other community practices and hospitals in Michigan.

Reference: Medical Care, Vol. 46, No. 9, Supplement 1, pp. 568-573

Source: University of Michigan Health System

Explore further: Study shows doctors record better notes after using best-practices program

Related Stories

Study shows doctors record better notes after using best-practices program

January 17, 2018
The quality and efficiency of notes doctors took about their patients improved when they received education and guidelines that emphasized best practices. In a study led by UCLA researchers, physicians were instructed to ...

Improved home care services and reduced workload for carers with a new work model

January 17, 2018
The number of elderly people who require home care will rapidly increase in Finland in the near future. The number of carers in not going to increase, though, at the same rate, and carers' excessive workload and the use of ...

Patients receive most opioids at the doctor's office, not the ER

January 16, 2018
Around the country, state legislatures and hospitals have tightened emergency room prescribing guidelines for opioids to curb the addiction epidemic, but a new USC study shows that approach diverts attention from the main ...

Insurance company requirements place heavy burden on physicians seeking to prescribe new cholesterol-lowering drugs

January 16, 2018
A rare glimpse into the prior authorization requirements implemented by public and private insurance providers across the country has found substantial administrative burden for a new class of medications for patients with ...

This year's flu vaccine might not stop the virus, but it can reduce risk of serious illness

January 15, 2018
H3N2: If you've had it, you know how bad it can be. If you don't, you've heard about it and are afraid. Very afraid.

AMA online tools address systems-level physician burnout

January 12, 2018
(HealthDay)—Tools and resources have been developed to help address physician burnout at the systems level, which may affect more than half of doctors, according to a report published by the American Medical Association ...

Recommended for you

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

January 18, 2018
Cancer metastasis, the migration of cells from a primary tumor to form distant tumors in the body, can be triggered by a chronic leakage of DNA within tumor cells, according to a team led by Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial ...

Modular gene enhancer promotes leukemia and regulates effectiveness of chemotherapy

January 18, 2018
Every day, billions of new blood cells are generated in the bone marrow. The gene Myc is known to play an important role in this process, and is also known to play a role in cancer. Scientists from the German Cancer Research ...

These foods may up your odds for colon cancer

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Chowing down on red meat, white bread and sugar-laden drinks might increase your long-term risk of colon cancer, a new study suggests.

The pill lowers ovarian cancer risk, even for smokers

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—It's known that use of the birth control pill is tied to lower odds for ovarian cancer, but new research shows the benefit extends to smokers or women who are obese.

Researchers develop swallowable test to detect pre-cancerous Barrett's esophagus

January 17, 2018
Investigators at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center have developed a simple, swallowable test for early detection of Barrett's esophagus that offers promise ...

Scientists zoom in to watch DNA code being read

January 17, 2018
Scientists have unveiled incredible images of how the DNA code is read and interpreted—revealing new detail about one of the fundamental processes of life.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.