This article is adapted from the abstract of AFMC’s upcoming poster presentation at the National Association for Healthcare Quality conference in November.

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second leading cause of cancer deaths. Studies suggest morbidity and mortality could be rapidly reduced through increased promotion and provision of CRC screenings.1 Promotion of CRC screening among health care providers remains low even with the proven effectiveness of these screenings on the reduction of mortality or with success in increased screenings through an organized, population-based screening program. Many believe that bridging disparities to increase CRC screening and treatment can be expensive and time-consuming.

Through a collaboration with the Arkansas Department of Health, AFMC is working with participating health care systems (HCS) to increase CRC screening rates. Five Arkansas HCS are implementing evidence-based interventions for CRC screening. Program strategies include:

  • Ongoing assessment of CRC screening protocols
  • Coaching and use of certified electronic health records technology systems
  • Assessing HCS data structure and workflow processes
  • Monitoring program progress

Additionally, AFMC provides CRC screening, continuing education and professional development opportunities for participating HCS staff.

Appropriate CRC screening is defined as having any of the following CRC screening tests: 1) fecal occult blood, including fecal immunochemical, during the measurement year; 2) flexible sigmoidoscopy during the measurement year or during the four years prior; or 3) colonoscopy during the measurement year or during the nine years prior.

AFMC assists the HCS with extracting and reporting CRC screening data from the National Quality Forum’s screening rate measure of “the percentage of patients ages 50-75 who are up-to-date with appropriate screening for CRC.” Both numerator and denominator population size, not the screening rate alone, are reported. From June 2016 to May 2017, data show aggregate CRC screening rates among participating HCS increased by 35 percent, with many individual medical practice sites achieving CRC-screening rate improvements above 50 percent. These results indicate that the promotion of CRC screening through an organized, community educational and assessment partnership can help reduce the morbidity and mortality from CRC.

1Maxwell, A.E., Hannon, P.A., Escoffery, C., Vu, T., Kohn, M. et al. (2014, October 2). Promotion and provision of colorectal cancer screening: A comparison of colorectal -cancer control program grantees and non-grantees, 2011-2012. Preventing Chronic Disease, 11, E170.