Including CT Colongraphy into HEDIS Can Increase Colorectal Cancer Screening Compliance

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Colorectal cancer (CRC) screening rates increased when CT colonography (CTC), commonly known as virtual colonoscopy, was included as a Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS)-compliant CRC test, according to a study in the January issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology, which evaluated CTC utilization in military medical facilities. HEDIS was developed by the National Committee for Quality Assurance to provide quality measures and standards of medical care across health plans. Current HEDIS measures for CRC screening include fecal occult blood testing, flexible sigmoidoscopy, and colonoscopy, but not CTC. The aim of the study was to quantify the use of CTC for CRC screening and examine the impact of including CTC as a HEDIS-acceptable screening modality. The researchers analyzed data from the Military Health System Population Health Portal for individuals between age 50 to 75 to evaluate overall CTC utilization. The study examined the 6-year period between January 1, 2005, and December 31, 2010. Screening compliance for CRC per HEDIS was also estimated. 17,187 CTC studies were performed across all sites (10 Army, 4 Navy, 3 Air Force) with increasing utilization during the study period. At two Navy medical centers, screening compliance ranged from 33.8 percent to 67.9 percent without CTC and 33.8 percent to 84 percent with CTC. “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 numerator for CRC screening tests could improve HEDIS compliance metrics in the presence of an integrated CTC screening program,” said Brooks D. Cash, MD, author of the study, in the conclusion. “Given the low rates of current HEDIS measures for CRC, it is important to expand this metric to include high-quality tests such as CTC that have the potential to significantly increase compliance with CRC screening guidelines and can be expected, over time, to contribute to further lowering of CRC-associated morbidity and mortality.” For the full study, click here.