1Viral Hepatitis Program, Bureau of Communicable Disease, Division of Disease Control, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Queens, New York (Mss Kela-Murphy, Moore, Verma, Bresnahan, and Schwartz and Dr Winters); and Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Department of Pediatrics, Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine, New York City, New York (Dr Harrison).
Context: As of 2015, an estimated 116000 New York City (NYC) residents had chronic hepatitis C, many of them undiagnosed. Although effective medications have been available since 2014 with the advent of direct-acting antivirals, provider-based barriers to treatment remain. The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (Health Department) coordinated the Hepatitis C Clinical Exchange Network (HepCX) from 2015 to 2019. The main goal of HepCX was to promote hepatitis C screening and treatment by hospital-based providers.
Program: The Health Department recruited hepatitis C champions (Champions) from acute care hospitals (n = 40) to promote improved hepatitis C care at their institutions. The Health Department provided technical assistance for hospitals to improve electronic medical record (EMR) systems and implement reflex RNA testing, coordinated trainings to increase capacity to treat hepatitis C, and distributed dashboards containing facility-specific testing and treatment metrics.
Implementation: By the end of the project period (2019), most hospitals (36/40; 90%) reported having a screening alert for baby boomers in their EMR system and 34 (85%) reported performing reflex RNA testing after a positive hepatitis C antibody test. The Health Department coordinated opportunities for Champions to share their work with providers from network hospitals at meetings and webinars and provided clinical education on hepatitis C treatment in partnership with a local nonprofit organization focused on liver health. Facility-specific dashboards were distributed annually to hospital leadership. RNA confirmation testing increased from an average of 57% in 2015 to 85% in 2018. Treatment initiation rates remained similar over 2 years, averaging 39% in 2017 and 38% in 2018.
Discussion: HepCX was a multipronged initiative designed to promote hepatitis C testing and treatment initiation among providers at NYC acute care hospitals. Improvements were observed in confirmatory testing rates; however, treatment initiation rates did not change. Further efforts should be targeted to hospitals in need of additional resources for linkage to care and treatment of hepatitis C.