Improving Fecal Immunochemical Test Return Rates: A Colorectal Cancer Screening Quality Improvement Project in a Multisite Federally Qualified Health Center

Health Promot Pract. 2022 Apr 6:15248399221083294. doi: 10.1177/15248399221083294. Online ahead of print.


The goal of this quality improvement project was to improve colorectal cancer (CRC) screening rates in a multicenter federally qualified health center (FQHC) within the Central Appalachian region of rural, southwestern Virginia. Guided by the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle, the objectives were to (1) evaluate implementation processes and effectiveness of an automated electronic medical record patient reminder system to promote fecal immunochemical test (FIT) completion, compared with live telephone reminders delivered by a care coordinator (i.e., usual care), and (2) explore staff perceptions related to improving CRC screening rates. In total, 119 FITs were distributed with 59 assigned to usual care and 60 to the automated groups. In the usual care group, 79% patients with completed protocol returned their FIT; 9% were positive. In the automated reminder group, 76% patients with completed protocol returned their FIT; 10% were positive. There was no significant difference in the number of contacts per patients between the usual care (2.0, SD = 0.82 contacts/patient) and automated (1.8, SD = 0.98 contacts/patient) groups (p = .248). In total, the usual care and automated groups required 56 and 17 live calls, respectively. Overall, FQHC system-wide CRC screening rates increase from 30.5% to 47.3%. Ten staff interviews revealed perceptions of CRC screening, the QI project, and organizational change processes that may inform future cancer control projects. Researcher and practitioners should consider PDSA quality improvement projects as an initial step to build capacity and improve CRC screening rates, especially when working in FQHC with limited resources to engage in large complex research projects.

PMID:35382617 | DOI:10.1177/15248399221083294