Increasing the availability of virtual colonoscopies, or CT colonographies, by adding them to the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) could improve compliance rates for colorectal cancer screening, show findings of a study in the January issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology.
The National Committee for Quality Assurance developed HEDIS to provide quality measures for the evaluation of standards of medical care across health plans. Currently HEDIS uses fecal occult blood testing, flexible sigmoidoscopy, and colonoscopy to screen for colorectal cancers, but not CT colonography (CTC).
In this study, researchers sought to quantify the use of CTC for cancer screening and to see if its availability would increase the number of people undergoing the screening procedure. The researchers analyzed data of individuals aged 50 to 75 years, from January 1, 2005, to December 31, 2010, obtained from the Military Health Population Health Portal. The researchers also estimated screening compliance for colorectal cancer per HEDIS, and the incremental impact of adding HEDIS-eligible patients who had undergone CTC as their only colorectal cancer screening test was then evaluated for two similarly sized, regional Navy medical centers.
A total of 17,187 CTC studies were performed at the 10 Army, four Navy, and three Air Force sites included in the study. The findings showed increasing utilization during the six-year study period. At the two Navy medical centers, screening compliance ranged from 33.8 percent to 67.9 percent when CTC was not used; however this rose to 33.8 percent to 84 percent when CTC was used.
“Our analysis demonstrates that CTC is being implemented with increasing frequency across military treatment facilities and that the inclusion of CTC in the currently defined NCQA [National Committee for Quality Assurance] enumerator for CRC screening tests could improve HEDIS compliance metrics in the presence of an integrated CTC screening program,” said study author Brooks D. Cash, MD, in a press release.