Introduction: With the current hepatitis C (HCV) epidemic in the Appalachian region and the risk of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) co-infection, there is a need for increased secondary prevention efforts. The purpose of this study was to implement routine HIV and HCV screenings in the urgent care setting through the use of an electronic medical record (EMR) to increase a provider’s likelihood of testing eligible patients.
Methods: From June 2017 through May 2018, EMR-based HIV and HCV screenings were implemented in three emergency department-affiliated urgent care settings: a local urgent care walk-in clinic; a university-based student health services center; and an urgent care setting located within a multi-specialty clinic. EMR best practice alerts (BPA) were developed based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and populated on registered patients who qualified to receive HIV and/or HCV testing. Patients were excluded from the study if they chose to opt out from testing or the provider deemed it clinically inappropriate. Upon notification of a positive HIV and/or HCV test result through the EMR, patient navigators (PNs) were responsible for linking patients to their first medical appointment.
Results: From June 2017 through May 2018, 48,531 patients presented to the three urgent care clinics. Out of 27,230 eligible patients, 1,972 patients (7.2%) agreed to be screened for HIV; for HCV, out of 6,509 eligible patients, 1,895 (29.1%) agreed to be screened. Thirty-one patients (1.6%) screened antibody-positive for HCV, with three being ribonucleic acid confirmed positives. No patients in either setting were confirmed positive for HIV; however, two initially screened HIV-positive. PNs were able to link 17 HCV antibody-positive patients (55%) to their first appointment, with the remainder having a scheduled future appointment.
Conclusion: Introducing an EMR-based screening program is an effective method to identify and screen eligible patients for HIV and HCV in Appalachian urgent care settings where universal screenings are not routinely implemented.