Virtual colonoscopy option improves screening compliance rates

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Giving patients the option of undergoing CT colonography--better known as virtual colonoscopy--rather than traditional colonoscopy could improve screening rates for colon cancer, according to a study published in the January issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

Brooks Cash, M.D., department of medicine, gastroenterology service at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and colleagues, analyzed demographic and healthcare utilization data from the Military Health System Population Health Portal from Jan. 1, 2005 to Dec. 31, 2010, for individuals ages 50 to 75 to determine the degree of overall utilization of CTC. They found that over that period, across 10 Army, four Navy and three Air Force sites, 17,187 CTC studies were performed with "increasing utilization."

In addition, a comparison of two naval medical centers found that screening compliance at the two facilities ranged from 33.8 percent to 67.9 without CTC, and 33.8 percent to 84 percent with CTC.

While CTC was included in screening guidelines issued by the American Cancer Society, the American College of Radiology, and the U.S. Multi-Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer in 2008, it has not been included as an approved measure for screening by the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set.

"The aim of our analysis was to quantify the use of CTC for CRC screening and demonstrate the potential impact of including CTC as a HEDIS-acceptable screening modality," Cash said in an announcement. "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."

In an interview with DOTmed News, Cash said that he and his colleagues don't view virtual colonoscopy as a replacement to any of the other tests, but instead as an additional option.

"Eventually what we hope is that this technology, based on the literature, will be re-reviewed by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and Medicare, receive an endorsement, and eventually find its way into the compliance list as well," Cash said.

For more:
- read the article abstract
- read the announcement
- see the article on DOTmed News

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