Screening for colorectal cancer (CRC) reduces mortality, yet more than one third of age-eligible Americans are unscreened.
Dr David Miller and colleagues examined the effect of a digital health intervention, Mobile Patient Technology for Health–CRC (mPATH-CRC), on rates of CRC screening.
The team evaluated 450 patients scheduled for a primary care visit and due for routine CRC screening.
An iPad application that displays a CRC screening decision aid, lets patients order their own screening tests, and sends automated follow-up electronic messages to support patients.
The primary outcome was chart-verified completion of CRC screening within 24 weeks.
Secondary outcomes were ability to state a screening preference, intention to receive screening, screening discussions, and orders for screening tests.
All outcome assessors were blinded to randomization.
The researchers found that baseline characteristics were similar between groups; 37% of participants had limited health literacy, and 53% had annual incomes less than $20,000.
Screening was completed by 30% of mPATH-CRC participants and 15% of those receiving usual care.
Compared with usual care, more mPATH-CRC participants could state a screening preference, planned to be screened within 6 months, discussed screening with their provider, and had a screening test ordered.
Half of mPATH-CRC participants “self-ordered” a test via the program.
Dr Miller's team concludes, "A digital health intervention that allows patients to self-order tests can increase CRC screening."
"Future research should identify methods for implementing similar interventions in clinical care."