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Standardized Workflows Improve Colonoscopy Follow-Up After Abnormal Fecal Immunochemical Tests in a Safety-Net System



How clinical teams function varies across sites and may affect follow-up of abnormal fecal immunochemical test (FIT) results.


This study aimed to identify the characteristics of clinical practices associated with higher diagnostic colonoscopy completion after an abnormal FIT result in a multi-site integrated safety-net system.


We distributed survey questionnaires about tracking and follow-up of abnormal FIT results to primary care team members across 11 safety-net clinics from January 2017 to April 2017. Surveys were distributed at all-staff clinic meetings and electronic surveys sent to those not in attendance. Participants received up to three reminders to complete the survey.


Of the 501 primary care team members identified, 343 (68.5%) completed the survey. In the four highest-performing clinics, nurse managers identified at least two team members who were responsible for communicating abnormal FIT results to patients. Additionally, team members used a clinic-based registry to track patients with abnormal FIT results until colonoscopy completion. Compared to higher-performing clinics, lower-performing clinics more frequently cited competing health issues (56% vs. 40%, p = 0.03) and lack of patient priority (59% vs. 37%, p < 0.01) as barriers and were also more likely to discuss abnormal results at a clinic visit (83% vs. 61%, p < 0.01).


Our findings suggest organized and dedicated efforts to communicate abnormal FIT results and track patients until colonoscopy completion through registries is associated with improved follow-up. Increased utilization of electronic health record platforms to coordinate communication and navigation may improve diagnostic colonoscopy rates in patients with abnormal FIT results.

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