Background: The present paper is a first evaluation of the use of "CEAwatch", a clinical support software system for surgeons for the follow-up of colorectal cancer (CRC) patients. This system gathers Carcino-Embryonic Antigen (CEA) values and automatically returns a recommendation based on the latest values.
Methods: Consecutive patients receiving follow-up care for CRC fulfilling our in- and exclusion criteria were identified to participate in this study. From August 2008, when the software was introduced, patients were asked to undergo the software-supported follow-up. Safety of the follow-up, experiences of working with the software, and technical issues were analyzed.
Results: 245 patients were identified. The software-supported group contained 184 patients; the control group contained 61 patients. The software was safe in finding the same amount of recurrent disease with fewer outpatient visits, and revealed few technical problems. Clinicians experienced a decrease in follow-up workload of up to 50% with high adherence to the follow-up scheme.
Conclusion: CEAwatch is an efficient software tool helping clinicians working with large numbers of follow-up patients. The number of outpatient visits can safely be reduced, thus significantly decreasing workload for clinicians.