Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a significant health burden among military veterans. Our goals were to increase monthly HCV screenings, diagnoses, and sustained virologic responses (SVR) among 88,652 unscreened birth cohort Veterans in Texas.
The interventions were enabled within six of the eight healthcare systems (HCSs) that compose Veteran's Integrated Service Network 17. The remaining two HCSs served as controls. The HCSs were separated into two groups: urban and rural; each composed of a control and three interventional HCSs. Decision support programming was embedded within the Computerized Patient Record System that prompted HCV screening among previously unscreened birth cohort patients. Clinical process design and educational efforts were enacted to enhance treatment capacity.
Monthly screenings increased 4.89 times (p < 0.001) and 2.97 times (p < 0.001) during the postinterventional period relative to control for urban and rural HCSs, respectively. For urban HCSs, diagnoses increased 1.58 (p < 0.001) times more than the control group during the postinterventional period, but there was no difference in number of diagnoses in the rural HCSs (p = 0.86). Monthly SVR increased 2.69 times more than the control group during the postinterventional period (p < 0.001).
Decision support improved HCV screening among birth cohort patients in both urban and rural HCSs. Increased screening boosted the monthly number of diagnoses in the urban HCSs, but not in the rural HCSs; which rebuts the utility of birth cohort screening among rurally residing veterans. These interventions significantly improved the rate of SVR achievement relative to control.