Technology Can Help Patients Engage in Routine Decisions

HealthDay News — Information technology can be harnessed to assist patients facing routine decisions, according to a study published in the May/June issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Alex H. Krist, MD, MPH, from the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, and colleagues conducted a prospective, observational study involving 12 practices with 55,453 patients using a patient portal. Participation was open for those potentially facing 1 of 3 cancer screening decisions: women aged 40 to 49 years who had not had a mammogram in 2 years; men aged 55 to 69 years who had not had a prostate-specific antigen test in 2 years; and adults aged 50 to 74 years who were overdue for colorectal cancer screening.

One-fifth of the portal users faced a potential cancer screening decision in 1 year. The researchers found that 20.6% of these patients started and 7.9% completed the decision module. Overall, 47.2% of those who completed the module shared responses with their clinician. A total of 57.8% of those surveyed after their next office visit thought their clinician had seen their response; many reported that the module made their appointment more productive, assisted with engagement in the decision, increased their knowledge, and improved communication (40.7%, 47.7%, 48.1%, and 37.5%, respectively).

“Although use of technology has the potential to make visits more efficient and effective, cultural, workflow, and technical changes are needed before it could be widely disseminated,” the authors wrote.

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Krist AH, Woolf SH, Hochheimer C, et al. Harnessing information technology to inform patients facing routine decisions: cancer screening as a test case. Ann Fam Med. 2017;15(3):217-224. doi:10.1370/afm.2063