Database used to monitor colonoscopy trends

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The American College of Gastroenterology and the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy are developing a database that tracks details of gastroenterologists' techniques while performing colonoscopies and other common procedures, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

Physicians participating in the data-reporting program have submitted information on: how large a portion of the colon they examine; how many polyps, which can be precancerous, they find; and how long it takes them to withdraw the colonoscope from the colon. Research has linked longer withdrawal times to higher polyp detection rates, the WSJ reported.

Currently, 23 medical practices have submitted data on about 4,800 colonoscopies.

According to Irving Pike, a gastroenterologist in Virginia Beach, Va., and chair of the project, the database was developed in response to pay-for-performance programs that have been introduced by insurers to link quality of care to payment. The hope is that the project will yield data on what is most valuable to determine quality, he said.

To date, Virginia-based Sentara Healthcare has compiled the data voluntarily, but the medical societies said that they likely will hire a data-management company to take on the program as it grows.

The groups also would like to track data for upper endoscopy; endoscopic ultrasound; and ERCP, a procedure for diagnosing and treating diseases of the pancreas and biliary tract.
In the coming months, the medical societies plan to discuss how to expand the program across the United States, according to WSJ