Telephone outreach and secure messaging have better response rates than mailed letters when it comes to communicating updated colonoscopy intervals for patients with a history of low-risk adenomas, a randomized trial found.
In an article published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, a group led by Jeffrey K. Lee, MD, MPH, a gastroenterologist at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Francisco, reported the following 60-day response rates for the three contact methods in potentially transitioning more than 600 post-polypectomy patients to the new interval:
- Telephone: 64.5%
- Secure messaging: 51.7%
- Mailed letter: 31.3%
Compared with letter outreach, overall rate differences were significant for telephone (18.1%) and secure message outreach (13.1%).
Such interventions are widely used, the authors noted, but have not been compared for efficacy in terms of communicating updated colonoscopy intervals.
The trial’s aim was to inform low-risk patients of the recommended interval update from 5 years — used since the 1990s — to 7-10 years. Given a choice, more patients opted to transition to the 10-year surveillance interval in the telephone (37%) and secure messaging arms (32%) compared with mailed-letter arm (18.9%).
In addition to telephone and secure messaging outreach, factors positively associated with adoption of the 10-year interval were a positive fecal immunochemical test-based index colonoscopy and increasing age. Patients with these characteristics may be biased toward avoiding colonoscopy if not medically necessary, the authors conjectured.
Inversely associated factors included Asian or Pacific Islander race (odds ratio, 0.58), Hispanic ethnicity (OR, 0.40), and a higher Charlson comorbidity score of 2 vs 0 (OR, 0.43).
Possible explanations for the race and ethnicity associations include gaps in culturally component care, lack of engagement with the English-based outreach approaches, and medical mistrust, the authors said.
“In this study, we gave all our patients an option to either extend their surveillance interval to current guideline recommendations or continue with their old interval, and some chose to do that,” Dr Lee said in an interview. “Patients really appreciated having a choice and to be informed about the latest guideline changes.”
“A critical challenge to health systems is how to effectively de-implement outdated surveillance recommendations for low-risk patients who have a 5-year follow-up interval and potentially transition them to the recommended 7- to 10-year interval,” Dr Lee and colleagues wrote.
More than 5 million surveillance colonoscopies are performed annually in US patients with a history of adenomas, the main precursor lesion for colorectal cancer, the authors noted.
With the recent guidelines issued in 2020 by the US Multi-Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer lengthening the follow-up interval to 7-10 years, physicians are being advised to reevaluate low-risk patients previously scheduled with 5-year surveillance and provide an updated recommendation for follow-up.
The three-arm pragmatic randomized trial was conducted in low-risk patients 54-70 years of age with one or two small (
As to economic considerations, the authors said that telephone may be the costliest form of outreach in terms of staffing resources. “We don’t know because we did not conduct a formal cost-effectiveness analysis,” Dr Lee said. “However, we do know phone outreach requires a lot of personnel effort, which is why we also explored the less costly option of secure messaging/email.”
But based on the findings, telephone outreach would be a reasonable approach to update patients on post-polypectomy surveillance guideline changes if secure messaging or text messaging isn’t available, he added.
Downsides to Retroactive Changes?
Commenting on the study but not involved in it, Nabil M. Mansour, MD, an assistant professor and director of the McNair General GI Clinic at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, noted that unlike Kaiser Permanente, his center decided against an overall effort to switch patients colonoscopied before the release of the new guidelines over to the new interval.
“Several of our physicians may have chosen to recommend a 5-year interval specifically for a variety of reasons and we felt going back, and making a blanket change to everyone’s interval retrospectively might create confusion and frustration and might actually delay the colonoscopies of some patients for which their doctors had a very good, legitimate reason to recommend a 5-year interval,” he said in an interview.
Dr Mansour added that no difficulties were encountered in getting patients to agree to a 10-year interval. In his view telephone communication or in-person clinic visits are likely the most effective ways, but both are more labor-intensive than automated patient portal messages. “I do not think traditional snail mail is effective.” His clinic uses automatic EMR reminders.
Offering another perspective on the study, Aditya Sreenivasan, MD, a gastroenterologist at Northwell Health in New York City, said his center has not reached out to correct the old intervals. “When I see a patient who previously had a colonoscopy with another physician, I always follow the previous recommendation for when the next colonoscopy should be, regardless of whether or not it technically meets guideline recommendations,” he told this news organization. “I do this because I was not there during the procedure and am not aware of any circumstances that would require a shorter interval that may not be apparent from the report.”
While he agrees with the new guidelines, Dr Sreenivasan is “not sure if retroactively changing intervals is beneficial to patients, as the presence of guidelines may subconsciously influence the behavior of the endoscopist at the time of the procedure. For example, if a patient has a technically challenging colonoscopy and the endoscopist is running late, the endoscopist may drop their guard once they find a polyp and miss 1-2 additional small polyps that they would have spent more time looking for if they knew their next one would be in 10 years instead of 5.”
As for notification method, despite the logistical downside of taking dedicated staff time to make telephone calls, Dr Sreenivasan said, “I think having a conversation with the patient directly is a much better way to communicate this information as it allows the patient to ask and answer questions. Things like tone of voice can provide reassurance that one cannot get via email.” Looking to the future, the study authors acknowledged that combinations of initial and reminder outreach approaches — for example, a mailed letter followed by secure message or telephone call — could potentially yield higher response rates and/or adoption rates than they observed. And a longer follow-up period with additional reminders may have produced higher yields. Additional studies are needed to optimize outreach approaches and to understand patient barriers to adopting the new guideline recommendations in different healthcare settings.
The study was supported by a Delivery Science grant from the Kaiser Permanente Northern California.
The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest. Dr Mansour and Dr Sreenivasan disclosed no conflicts of interest relevant to their comments.
This article originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.
Source link : https://www.medscape.com/s/viewarticle/how-communicate-updated-colonoscopy-intervals-patients-2024a10002wn?src=rss
Publish date : 2024-02-09 11:24:30
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