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Utah Clinic Improves Colon Cancer Screenings by Optimizing EHR

By Janet Tennison and Paige Fieldsted

Utah Partners for Health, Mid-Valley Health Clinic, participated in a joint grant project through HealthInsight and the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) to improve quality for their patients. This year-long project included a wide variety of activities and tasks, including assisting the practice in becoming a certified Joint Commission Medical Home, optimizing their electronic health record (EHR) (eClinicalWorks), conducting an analysis to identify and improve any workflow inefficiencies, and improving clinical quality measures.

“Mid-Valley has been such a pleasure to work with,” said Janet Tennison, their HealthInsight Practice Facilitator. “The staff really cares about their patients and is totally committed to ensuring all they do is of the highest quality. I’m impressed with the staff’s knowledge and dedication to quality. Although they have high quality scores, their attitude is that they can always improve. They talk about what needs to improve, develop plans, train and educate, and measure outcomes until they succeed.”

One of their most recent successes is in increasing the rate of colorectal cancer screenings. They elected to pilot Insure® FIT™ Patient screening tests and developed a plan on how to get patients to use them. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the US, and the third most commonly diagnosed cancer.[1] Colorectal cancer screenings continue to be lower in the disparate populations Mid-Valley Health Center sees--racial and ethnic minorities, individuals with lower income or lower educational attainment, the uninsured, and individuals who were not born in the United States.[2]

Mid-Valley staff developed a process to increase the number of patients participating in screenings. Their activities included:

  • Developing a script inviting patients to participate in the screening program
  • Using their EHR to identify patients needing screenings
  • Using medical assistant (MA)/provider daily morning huddles to remind each other to discuss screenings with patients they were seeing that day
  • MAstaped kits to provider exam room keyboards as reminders for providers to discuss with patients and order tests
  • MAs used kit tools to visually demonstrate how to use them
  • Patients were given stamped envelopes with the clinic’s pre-printed address

The process resulted in a 70 percent return rate, according to Renae Bowen, the clinic’s quality improvement director.

“We are so excited to see that our patients understand the need for this important test, “Bowen said. “ We did have some positive results, so we are able to refer patients for diagnostic colonoscopies quickly. It’s gratifying to know that we may have really helped patients avoid suffering and death.”

Although the CHIPRA grant is ending, Mid-Valley staff will continue to work with HealthInsight on additional projects, including Million Hearts, diabetes self-management, adult immunizations and Meaningful Use.

[1] American Cancer Society Cancer Facts & Figures 2010. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society; 2010.

[2] National Center for Health Statistics Health, United States, 2010: With Special Feature on Death and Dying. 
   Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics; 2011:18.