Computerized system can help doctors manage annual colon cancer screenings
ClinfoTracker, a computerized reminder system used in community-based primary care doctors' offices, increased colorectal cancer screening rates by an average of 9 percent, according to a study from the University of Michigan Health System (UMHS) published in the September issue of Medical Care.

The system was integrated into 12 primary care practices participating in the Great Lakes Research into Practice Network, a statewide practice-based research network in Michigan. The system printed reminders for patients who met general guidelines for colorectal cancer screening, based on age and history of prior screening. The reminders went to doctors only for eight of the practices and to doctors and patients for four of the practices, according to study authors.

The study followed the practices for nine months. The researchers found that average screening rates at the beginning of the study were 41.7 percent. By the end of the study, that had jumped to 66.5 percent, according to study author Donald Nease, MD, associate professor of family medicine at the UM Medical School and co-creator of ClinfoTracker.

The greatest improvements in screening rates occurred at practices that were more technologically savvy and practices where employees were more adaptable and worked well together, Nease said.

ClinfoTracker can also assist with chronic care, such as diabetes testing, as well as with cancer screenings and other routine tests.

The ClinfoTracker software is being used commercially under the name Cielo Clinic at all five UMHS family medicine clinics, as well as at several other community practices and hospitals in Michigan. The University of Michigan has exclusively licensed the ClinfoTracker software to Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Cielo MedSolutions, in which Nease and Klinkman have an equity stake.

The National Cancer Institute and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) provided funding for the study.