Study: Wake Forest Baptist's iPad app improves colon cancer screening sign-ups

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A team of physicians at Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center deployed an iPad app intervention to improve rates of colorectal cancer screenings across the health system.

For the study, the physicians developed an iPad app — called Mobile Patient Technology for Health-CRC, or mPATH-CRC — that allows patients to order their own screening tests from the waiting rooms of six primary care practices. The iPad app presented patients with information about different types of screening tests and sent automated follow-up messages to remind patients of their upcoming appointments.

Researchers enrolled 450 patients in the study, 223 of whom had access to the mPATH-CRC app. Fifty-three percent of those with access to the iPad app ordered a CRC screening test. Roughly half of patients who ordered a screening on the iPad app failed to complete the test.

However, overall, 30 percent of patients in the mPATH-CRC group completed CRC screenings within 24 weeks, compared to 15 percent of those who did not have access to the iPad app, according to study results published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

"A digital health intervention that allows patients to self-order tests can increase CRC screening," the study authors concluded. "Future research should identify methods for implementing similar interventions in clinical care."

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