Background: This study was conducted to validate use of electronic health record (EHR) data for measuring colorectal cancer (CRC) screening rates at community health centers (CHCs).
Methods: Electronic health records were queried to assess screening via colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, or fecal occult blood testing (FOBT) in 2011.
Results: Multiple iterations were required to maximize query accuracy. Manual chart reviews, stratified by screening modality, confirmed query results for 112 of 113 (99.1%) reviewed colonoscopies, 110 of 110 (100%) reviewed FOBTs, and 111 of 120 (92.5%) unscreened patients. At participating CHCs, CRC screening rates ranged from 9.7% to 67.2% (median, 30.6%). Adherence to annual FOBT ranged from 3.3% to 59.0% (median, 18.6%). Most screening was done by colonoscopy.
Conclusions: Colorectal cancer screening varies substantially across CHCs. Electronic health record data can validly measure CRC screening, but repeated assessments of programming accuracy are required. Community health centers may need support to measure quality using EHR data and increase screening.