Hepatitis C (HCV) is a viral liver disease that can result in cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma, liver transplantation or death. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 2.7–3.9 million Americans are living with HCV, yet the majority are unaware. Starting in 2013, both CDC and US Preventative Services Task Force guidelines agreed in recommending HCV screening for all those born between 1945 and 1965 yet many clinics have been slow to adopt screening.
We designed a quality improvement project seeking to improve HCV screening rates among patients seen for new or annual visits to ≥90% over a 3-year period in an academic primary care clinic.
Screening rates were assessed through repeated review of charts (50 per cycle or 300 charts total, roughly 35% of eligible visits) as a series of interventions were executed. Sustainability was assessed by repeating an additional 50-chart analysis 1 year after completion of the study interventions. At the conclusion of the study, a post hoc analysis of socioeconomic factors was undertaken to determine whether gender, income or ethnicity might affect screening rates.
Over 6 cycles of interventions, screening rates improved from 24% to ≥90%. Screening rates remained at 88% 1 year after completion of the interventions. The most effective interventions used reminders built into our electronic medical record and informed providers of their personal HCV screening rates relative to the clinic as a whole. Our post hoc analysis found that lower socioeconomic standing and white race were associated with reduced likelihood of screening.
Provider adoption of new HCV screening guidelines can be markedly and sustainably increased with electronic medical record prompts as well as directed feedback informing providers of their personal screening rates compared with colleagues.